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We don’t have a problem of recurring consumers: Tarun Katial, ZEE5 India

09-July-2018
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We don’t have a problem of recurring consumers: Tarun Katial, ZEE5 India

Whether it’s radio, TV or Over-the-Top (OTT) Tarun Katial (founder COO-CEO of Big FM) is making everything look like a cakewalk. Now with his recent appointment as the CEO of ZEE5 India, an OTT service by ZEEL, Katial is ensuring that by end of 2018 the OTT is leading the market with the right strategy. Earlier last April he had taken up additional responsibilities at ZEEL which include, TV and digital content production.

Katial in a free-wheeling chat with e4m talks about the change in the role, strategy, response to ZEE5, consumer viewing pattern and the subscription model playing a vital part.
Edited excerpts:

How has your role changed from 2017 to now?

It’s not that relevant to be honest. While running Big FM, I was getting the original-content team put together strategies with the right consumer insights and develop a pipeline of original content (which is one of our biggest differentiated propositions). We will have the largest pipeline of original shows across languages in this market. My current role is creating value in this platform.

With half the year gone what’s the strategy?

We will continue with our combination of AVOD and SVOD. The broadcast content is repurposed well (on AVOD), given almost as live as possible with our TV network and co-promoted it with them.

The aim is to be in as many languages in regional as well as Hindi content that’s relevant to consumers. We want to build a great base of recurring consumers on a daily basis on the app for both models (AVOD and SVOD). Currently the focus is on AVOD and originals.

Our strategy is to reach out to the large mass with relevant content. We will have a large bouquet of Hindi and regional original content very soon by the end of this year which will put us in a leadership position. In the next 24 months a lot of different sections will come up in the app.

We are doing some partnerships with telecom and payment gateways. We will get to you very soon on that.

How has the response been to ZEE5 so far?

It’s been very encouraging. We are increasing app installs and views every single day. Apart from that features are increasing; we are doing a whole new user interface and experience by this month. We also launched on Amazon Fire Stick where it is seeing a very good off-take.

What are the content triggers for ZEE5?

Our TV content like ‘Kumkum Bhagya,’‘Ishq Subhan Allah’ and ‘Kundali Bhagya' and regional big shows bring in many consumers every single day.

On subscription-front consumers do a lot of binge-watching on originals. We don’t have a problem of recurring consumers. We do 500 hours of content in so many different languages every week. We have the largest network (ZEEL) by choice, by content and by rating. The fact that original content is almost available in parallel to any other broadcast beam is a lot for people to consume on a daily basis.

How has the consumer viewing pattern been? What works?

Crime and thrillers work very well for men because family viewing is difficult for these genres. One-on-one viewing gives you the opportunity to do far more different things. To be honest, everything works with different sets of audiences across languages. In originals ‘Zero KMS’ has given us great response, be it IMDB or critic. There has been a good uptake on our subscription.

Having said that, we have only released one-tenth of our original content. So I wouldn't make that judgment too early about the genre since user data needs to be seen and analysed in a certain volume. We want to get to about 10-15 shows (from current four) to able to do so.

How has the uptake been on the subscription front?

It’s moving very quickly. We keep offering new subscription offers. The father's day offer worked really well for us. Now we are doing a specific one for Chennai. We do geographical, topical and content-led stuff. In some case we let people watch the first two episodes for free. It's like e-commerce.

How often do you see conversion in consumers from AVOD to SVOD?

It’s a funnel. People will funnel in. They wait to see what they like. Sometimes they come in when you do a big movie promotion like ‘Padman’ or a series launch. We are going to have diversity in our content across genres. We want to be like Zee and have the widest appeal in the OTT space amongst the Indian consumer.

What about the brand recall?

For Indian consumer we already have the highest brand recall. We are far more endearing than others.

PWC mentioned that by 2022, 79.4 per cent of total OTT video market revenue is expected to be from SVOD. Your thoughts on that?

SVOD will be a large component by 2022. Indian consumer propensity to spend is going up. If he finds the relevant content for himself he will pay.

When do you see it playing a substantial role in your revenue stream?

I expect that to happen when we do a certain amount of volume launches, about 12 months from now. Overall the sentiment is AVOD and SVOD will fairly play big roles in the OTT space.

Finally, how has the shift been from radio to OTT?

It’s all about consumer and content. So it’s not very different. There is a large Indian consumer base. I have worked with audience in all languages because Big FM has a wide spread of 60 stations from north-east to Gujarat, from Kerala to Kashmir. Every market has its own unique needs, desires, differentiation. Also, it’s about creating content which I have been doing for the last 20 years. It’s about having the ability or opportunity to convert insights into content and working with creators to be able to deliver that.

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