Indian music label Saregama in talks to acquire Pocket Aces in video push

Saregama is in talks to acquire Pocket Aces, three people familiar with the matter said, as the oldest Indian music label grows its video ambitions.

The acquisition talks have been underway for several weeks, but a deal is yet to be finalized, the people said. The video games streaming platform Loco, which span out of Pocket Aces in 2021, is not part of the discussions, the people added, requesting anonymity as the deliberation is private.

Saregama’s interest in Pocket Aces, which has raised over $20 million and counts Peak XV and 3one4 Capital among its backers, comes as the Kolkata-headquartered firm ramps up its efforts to broaden its video catalog.

The 120-year-old publicly listed firm, which produces over 300 video songs in a quarter, has expanded to several new categories, including the jukebox Carvaan business, in the past decade. In recent years, it has also invested in low-budget South Indian movies and TV series for on-demand video streaming platforms.

The pursuit comes as rival T-Series widens its lead over the competition in the digital video space by being early to upload video songs on YouTube. This strategy — which benefited from hundreds of Indians coming online in the past decade, thanks to low-cost Android smartphones and internet access — helped T-Series become the most subscribed YouTube channel, with a massive following of nearly 250 million subscribers, compared to Saregama’s 37 million.

Saregama didn’t respond to requests for comment, whereas Pocket Aces declined.

In Pocket Aces, the Indian music conglomerate sees a partner that can supercharge its video production efforts.

Pocket Aces largely produces short-form video content aimed at young Indians. It has seen its popularity surge in recent years as its shows, typically comedic and dealing with real-world issues, have resonated with viewers. The startup has also licensed IPs like the show “Little Things” to Netflix and shared other content with platforms such as Jio, MX Player, Vistara, and Qatar Airways. Pocket Aces reaches 50 million viewers weekly and accumulates 700 million views monthly, according to stats it has disclosed on its website.

It has also collaborated with T Series, phone makers, e-commerce giants, lenders and scores of young startups to do branded content. A campaign of five episodes it produced for Amazon, aiming to promote the seller business, garnered over 18 million views, according to Pocket Aces.