2019 will be the year of regional content: Tarun Katial, ZEE5

The CEO of ZEE5 on the consumption drivers, reception towards region-specific subscription packs in 2018, partnerships and how 2019 will only get bigger

by Madhuwanti Saha
Published - Dec 12, 2018 8:49 AM Updated: Dec 12, 2018 8:49 AM

2018 has been a rather action-packed year for ZEE5 and the upcoming year or two will only see things getting bigger and better for ZEEL’s OTT platform with more investments being pushed in that direction. Punit Goenka, MD & CEO of ZEEL, had mentioned earlier in one of his interviews that the streaming service is their next big bet when it comes to investment and cornering incremental and additional viewers. With increasing investment he is expecting the business to break even in three to five years.

Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5, talks to exchange4media about the future plans and how the past year has been for the OTT platform, including the reception, region specific subscription pack and original content.

Watch the video or continue reading:


Innovative pricing
Apart from bringing in regional content, ZEE5 played around with the pricing and introduced special subscription packs for Tamil, Telugu and Kannada audience. This enables users to access premium language content at half the price (Rs 49/month).
Katial shared that the reception to these region specific packs has been ‘great’ as they are offering live TV, regional original content, digital movie premieres and early access to regional shows even before TV. “So it’s a healthy bouquet of content with lot of depth for Tamil, Telugu and Kannada consumers. After South, we will take a break for a quarter and go East,” revealed Katial.  
2018 saw original regional content really taking off with OTT players eyeing growth from tier II and III cities. But that, says Katial, was just the tip of the iceberg. “2019 will be the actual year of language (regional) content, the big proliferation of original content and digital movies in India. The uptake of original content will move 3-4 times,” he said.

Katial also mentioned the launch of a premium brand around ZEE5. "It’s in the process of being created. SVOD section will be branded separately. It’s a different experience than AVOD subset. Several features will be added to it."

Content game strong

Right from its launch, ZEE5 has kept its content game strong especially for originals and movie acquisition. It came out with 15 originals across six languages including the big-budget ‘Karenjit Kaur’ and big digital premieres of popular titles such as Mulk, Parmanu, Stree and Veere Di Wedding. The strategy of movie premieres particularly worked as it was one of the major consumption drivers.  
It’s now looking to launch over 90 originals in FY2019 and reach 150+ digital premiers in the next 18 months. Katial mentioned that audience sees value in original content as it’s a big differentiator. This explains the deep investment. “Original movies did well, case in point being ‘Tiger’ (Emraan Hashmi) We have ‘Rangbaaz’ coming up next month with Saqib Saleem which is as big as ‘Karenjit Kaur’ for us. Then there will be big original shows in Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Marathi. We will amp up in 2019. A slate of 40-50 big shows will come up over the next two quarters,” Katial added.
AVOD is not getting overshadowed as Katial sees TV shows and their characters being big drivers. “We have content beyond the general shows like character journeys and best scenes. Lot of content is created outside the core content. We will continue to invest behind that as well.”

"Language original content, shows around specific themes and relevant topics will continue to resonate well with Indian consumers. You will see off-take in subscription," says Katial.

Like any other OTT streaming platform, ZEE5 hasn’t left any stone unturned to reach the consumer.  This goes beyond the regular tie-ups with telecom service providers, digital wallets and smart TVs. For instance, for travel start-up RailYatri customers, ZEE5 had introduced a sachet subscription which gets bundled with the bookings. Similar partnerships with Oyo, MakeMyTrip and RedBus among others are aimed at travel-loving consumers by offering them discounts. “Sachet consumers come for a short period of time and want entertainment on the go.”

All this and more is definitely working as the ZEE5 app garnered 41.3 million Monthly Active Users in Sep’18, a whopping 190% growth since Apr’18, according to data provided by ZEE5. And they have just about begun.



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