Launched under the ZEE brand a year ago, kids channel ZeeQ is unique in many ways and claims to have a unique advertising policy and content strategy. On the completion of one year, Subhadarshi Tripathy, Business Head, ZeeQ talks about how the channel has fared, the surge in subscription numbers, retaining the attention of kids, and more...
Has the 10+2 ad cap affected the business of a very special interest channel like ZeeQ?
We are not under pressure. Our core focus is subscription. We are not currently very open and upfront on it. On digital cable, we are free to air till March 31, 2014. On the DTH platforms, we are a paid channel. We are still an a la carte channel. We manage to get on the lead platforms because of the mother group we belong to. This is an advantage that we have as a ZEE brand.
ZeeQ is among the most expensive channels in India, how has the response been on the subscription front?
Since February, there has been a growth of 70-75 per cent in subscription numbers. That would be our top-line growth. The share of subscription is likely to grow, as that was the fundamental objective with which we started.
How has the first year been? Have your objectives been achieved?
The business objectives have been multi-fold – a new platform, money front, etc., we are satisfied with the way things have shaped up. We started off at a time when no one knew what would happen. DTH was still a new thing, digitisation was happening. Today, we are at 1.5 crore set top boxes out of the 2 crore installed. We are very close to get on to the Tata Sky and Airtel platforms. We will also expand our current fold of DTH customers on Dish TV and Videocon. Content wise we are doing well and have received good feedback. So, overall the year has been good for us.
You had ventured into a territory which was critically received? How has the audience response been?
We spend almost an equal amount of money on research and marketing. Current research feedback has been that our audience has been looking for content that we have proposed. Young parents want to serve their child with clean content. They want their children to get entertained. It is up to us to convince the parents whether or not they will get educated. That’s how it has to be in ‘edutaining’, and we have been getting a good response. TAM ratings are one way to look at it. But it is the 4-9 year olds who give you the highest ratings. Above this age, the kids start getting into other genres as well and also start watching infotainment channels.
It is well-known that the attention span of kids is very short. Have you been able to sustain their interest?
We started using a slot on ZEE TV as it has the advantage of being our mother brand and has far more reach. So, every Sunday morning, the 10:30 AM slot aired the ZeeQ band. As far as time spent is concerned, it is approximately 10 minutes out of 22 minutes of programming. The rate is higher than the GECs. Since we are refreshing our animation shows, we are getting phenomenal traction. Our ratings and reach are showing an upwardly trend, where time spent is not an issue. Primarily one needs to refresh. In the kids’ genre for my channel, afternoon will be the prime time.
As far as marketing initiatives are concerned, we have done a lot of BTL activities to help people sample the content, especially parents. We are going more show-specific now. We approached the parents because they spend the money. Therefore, they have to take a decision first on money and whether the content is fit for their kids to watch or not.
What is the percentage of acquired and self made content?
Currently, it would be 70:30, where 70 per cent is acquired content.
That’s a high percentage. Do you think we lack creative content creators in India, which is the reason why most of our channels export content from abroad?
We Indians are known to be good storytellers. But when it comes to implementing that in the mass medium and patience to hold for return on investment, we are very poor. We get technicians and artisans to do the animations, but when it comes to writing for animations, there is only one show which has made a mark, ‘Chota Bheem’. Dearth of storytelling abilities on the mass medium and a dearth of investment in these kinds of shows are prime reasons for export of shows. The return on high rated foreign shows is quick. Three years from now I would do my own shows, but as of now nobody has the patience.
You are still reluctant to let in advertisers on the channel. With kids now playing a major part in purchase decisions in a family and choosing brands, what is your stand on allowing advertisers on the channel?
I don’t want to influence kids in a wrong way. It sounds very bookish, but I wouldn’t have been able to run the channel had I not been bookish. Instead of going for a car, I would go for an eco-friendly car. Am I telling the child a right thing? These things matter a lot for a channel like ours.