ZEE5 all set to boost its Digital Original Films stock in 2020
Aparna Acharekar, Programming Head, ZEE5 India, says while digital films are a part of the platform's content strategy, their focus this year will also remain on their original web series space
They are in the business of entertainment and video streaming platform, ZEE5 left no stone unturned to ensure that there was something for everyone in their content library in 2019. The platform claims to now be the “largest producer of Originals and content in India by launching 80+ OCs in 2019". ZEE5 also boasts of content being available in 12 languages and on an average, releases one original web series in six different languages each month.
And it wasn’t their Original web series alone that won over viewers in the year gone by but also their impressive collection of over 20 Original direct to digital films released on the platform. Think, Sholay Girl, Tigers, 377 Ab Normal, Barot House, Posham Pa, Badnaam Gali and many more that enthralled viewers and critics alike. And here is the good news, in 2020 too ZEE5 is looking to boost its stock of original films further.
Shares the ZEE5 India programming head, Aparna Acharekar, the ball has already been set rolling, “We are going to be really very aggressive on digital original films this year. We already have some 20 films that we have commissioned that are in some or the other stage of production, either something is being written, or something is in pre-production or something is being shot. We have two films on the floor that we announced, one is ‘Operation Parindey’ which is a prison break story and the other one is ‘Shukranu’ that Reliance is making for us.”
If 2019 was a year of a string of successful films, this year will surpass expectations promises Acharekar, “We've already started off our journey of digital films. 2020 will be bigger and better, you may just see two films a month from us.” She adds.
While digital films are one part of ZEE5’s content strategy, their focus this year will also remain on their original web series space. According to Acharekar, this year they will be very big on franchises, a lot of newer big shows will launch and some of their topmost consumed content will go into season 2. One of their top running shows ‘Rangbaaz Phirse’ has already premiered with its second season.
In the two years since its launch, ZEE5 has managed to hit the bull’s eye with content that sets it apart from its competition. Its large bouquet of originals has securely placed it on top of the number charts. What has worked for the platform believes Acharekar, is the fact that being an Indian company they understand the Indian consumer well, she elaborates, “If you see the very core of ZEE as a group, we are an Indian company. No one knows India as we do. And truly if you see the range of products that a ZEE has, whether it is TV channels, whether it's penetration across each language market, whether it's GECs, news or movie channels, we're very well penetrated across India. When a ZEE5 was launched, that was the vision. ZEE5 represents India. ZEE5 is an Indian platform made by, made in and made for India, truly if you see it's an Indian company. So, knowing the Indian market well is somewhere in our DNA. We know what Indian consumers want and if you add to that our consumer understanding, our content making legacy and couple that with data, you have a winning combination.”
While she underlines the importance of understanding what the consumer wants and imbibing it on their platforms, at the same time she also points out that cutting edge technology has also contributed to providing an excellent video experience to consumers.
Acharekar explains, “We are a content company, we are an OTT platform, we are an entertainment platform but as a brand, our positioning now is a ConTech brand -content and technology. When you're an OTT, the technology on which your content sits also becomes a key factor in influencing whether you will use me or not. And therefore the two pillars that actually define our brand are content and technology.
She further adds, “So, great content, good planning, understanding of the consumer, evolving with the consumer, evolving with the ecosystem on the basis of very sound technology is what is a good combination.”
No conversation can be complete in the OTT space without talking about the regional markets. For ZEE5 too regional has been an important focus area especially given the response they have received for their regional content. Popular shows like Telegu original ‘G.O.D’ and Tamil original ‘Auto Shankar’ are not only a hit in the regional markets but are being consumed by the Hindi speaking market viewers. Says Aparna, “Regional markets have been excellent for us. In fact, we have ruled the roost in most regional markets. We are the only ones to make original content in Marathi. Compare it to any other OTT in the country, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Marathi, we are the number one with the most number of launches.”
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