In 2020, ZEEL will focus on building a creative ecosystem in Punjab: Prathyusha Agarwal

Agarwal, CMO, ZEEL, shares with exchange4media insights on the network strengthening its regional portfolio with the unveiling of four new channels this week

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Dec 20, 2019 8:28 AM
Prathyusha Agarwal

Despite the economic slowdown, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL) has strengthened its regional portfolio with the unveiling of four new channels this week - Zee Punjabi, Zee Biskope (Bhojpuri), Zee Thirai (Tamil) and Zee Picchar (Kannada). 

Zee is currently present across eight regional languages, including Marathi, Bengali, Oriya, and Bhojpuri in HSM and all four southern languages, boasting of 12 SD and 8 HD channels. With the upcoming launches, the network will be expanding into Punjabi further strengthening its presence in Kannada, Tamil and Bhojpuri.

The launch of the four channels clearly shows that ZEEL is not only targeting regional markets in a big way but also creating markets for themselves.

 In a conversation with exchange4media, Prathyusha Agarwal, CMO, ZEEL, shared that TV had around 183 million households in FY18 and FY19 will be finishing at 197 million. The number is further growing and even the TV audience count has gone up to 836 million which shows that it's only thriving, she said. “The overall TV penetration across India is at 66 per cent which still leaves a huge room of growth at 34 per cent,” Agarwal said.

With a varied spread from South which is greater than 90 per cent to Punjab which is 88 per cent, Bengal is at 60 per cent and UP and Bihar at 30 per cent. “TV has a fair spread of market and there is scope for further penetration. The other big thing for us is that consumption and time spent on TV is steadily growing. In 2015, it used to be 183 minutes on TV and this has increased to 223 minutes for each day. The consumption is still increasing.”

Agarwal observed that both in HSM and critically in the regional markets a new entrant always brings in a rise in consumption.  “Overall, TV has been a good story and we expect that growth to be around 10 per cent and next year, again, we expect it to grow further.” 

A lot of growth is coming from the regional markets clearly because audiences there have tasted quality content in their own language which is now going to grow further, she added. 

 Speaking about ZEEL, Agarwal said, “We are still the number one network at 18.3 in the first half, and we have a 70 per cent reach in the entire country. The performance has been good for us and the growth has really come in a very big way from regionals. Our Marathi channel has been the market leader for seven years now, even in Bangla we continued to be the leader this year too. 

 “In Kannada, for the last 50 weeks, we have been number one and our share has increased from 23 per cent to 33 per cent. We are Number 1 in the entire East cluster and in Marathi. In the South, with five channels we have a 15 per cent share and want to bring it up to 18 per cent.” 

 For ZEEL, both HSM and regional markets have a 50 per cent share in the overall growth. “Ninety per cent growth comes from GECs. Four out of ZEEL’s three channels are movie channels. We are expanding movie genres in a big way so that we capture the growing pie of the movie market, which is thriving in a big way.” 

Punjab has 88% market penetration but only 18.4 hours of TV, which is four hours less than for Marathi. Given that percentage, audience knowing the language is higher in Punjab. “It's a higher refined audience because there's no Punjabi original content. There's a huge need gap. And we basically want to make a big dent and create a category. 2019 has gone into delivering in these markets and getting on to new opportunities.” 

She further added, “We built good destination brands at ZEEL. The data repeatedly proves to us that there's about 30 per cent of core audience which contribute to 80 per cent of consumption and we've been single-mindedly focused on growing that core. We are focused on building channel destination work, whether it's the character campaigns that we've done, or the overall channel work.” 

Speaking about the 2020 focus, the ZEEL CMO shared: “In the coming years we will be focusing on opening up the uniform price and purchasing choice. Consumers have moved to purchasers, purchase marketing or subscription marketing, and this year has been a very good learning journey and also understanding the path to purchase and how do we deliver.” 

 The network has been focusing on the culture including dialects, characters and quirky dialogue. The whole year was focused on how to make characters authentic. “We're looking at continuing that journey both in the case of content and the characters that we bring alive, the spaces in which we set our stories. Our biggest focus for 2020 is actually setting the creative ecosystem for Punjab where there is no Punjabi GEC. Beyond movies and music there isn’t much in the space. We will be focusing on building the creative ecosystem, and providing that platform and an opportunity for talent to grow that, continuing in each of the regions but Punjab will be a special priority to set up and kind of give an opportunity to the local talent. Bringing the talent back to Punjab is really a priority.”  

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