In TV space, growth will come from regional segment: Mehraj Dube, Zee Media

The Vice President of ZEE Media Corporation Limited speaks about the cluttered news space, the thought behind launching Zee Hindustan, the growth of the digital medium and more

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jul 20, 2018 8:57 AM  | 4 min read

Mehraj Dube, Vice President of ZEE Media Corporation Limited who is currently leading the marketing department at ZEE Media Corp, spoke to exchange4media’s Ruahil Aameen during a one-on-one discussion on ‘New League of National Channels’ at the Pitch Top 50 Brands event.

Here's the edited excerpts:

What was the thought behind launching one more channel when already the market is so cluttered?

Yes, there are so many news and TV channels. And TV screen is one, unlike a newspaper where there is always scope for another page.
The idea was to introduce one more brand catering to a different segment. There are several news channels, but they are ‘national news channels’. The idea behind starting Zee Hindustan was to look beyond Delhi and Mumbai.

We at Zee Media, through our more than 14 news channels and other news brands, tell stories. And there are many stories to be told beyond Delhi and Mumbai. There are great stories all over the country. This is one Hindi news channel which, since its inception, has also been distributed in South India. In just about a year, there are nearly 50 million viewers logging in every week.

When you talk about brand building, what is the contribution of pedigree?

Yes, we have the strength and resources. But if I say that it was very easy for Zee to launch another channel, it would be underestimating the power of viewers. News viewers now are very smart. They are very opinionated. They like transparency and are fast to see your leaning and neutrality. So, it is not easy for anyone.

With the launch of Zee Hindustan, do you think you are now competing with your own channels WION and Zee News?

There is always space for a new one and no we do not compete within ourselves. They are well differentiated channels. Zee Hindustan is doing very well in UP rural and many other rural markets, without losing much in urban markets. This is a struggle even for many traditional news channels.

What kind of a growth are you looking at in the regional space? Are you ready to go hyper local or are you just using the ‘Hindi’ part of it?

Unlike English news space, which is struggling with 5-6 million households every week, regional or Hindi news channels have a lot more.

Of course, sometimes your national brands and regional brands will complement each other. It’s not that the so-called regional news viewers do not watch the news channel which is in the national space or show national stories. So for us, it is sticking with stories that fit with the time and audience. And this solves the puzzle. Some people think regional channels come at the cost of national channels. I don’t think that way. And some think there is no space for national news channels; I don’t think that way either.

I think if growth in the TV space comes, it will come from regional the segment.

How are you looking at the growth of digital?

Thinking only digital or TV will make you a victim of the medium. I think it is all about building great brand relation. Viewers don’t remember if they watched a story on TV or digital. So I think we are moving into a space where story is more important and brand is more important. There are many parameters like: Who told a story? Was it credible? Does the viewer have respect for the guy who showed that story? As I said, consumers have become very smart. They know who you are, where are you are coming from etc. And they have various options.

Yes, digital has done very well for our news business, with 150 page views. Our brands are doing really well in certain markets.

There are more than 800 TV channels, do you think there is still space for more channels?

It is tough to answer what will happen in the future. There are so many communities of news audience sitting out there. You can choose one or two or three or four. I wouldn’t comment on the number of news channels as many of them will perhaps die. It is a business of the fittest. We are storytellers and we have to tell stories that people believe.
Yes, it is going to be tough. It is going to be more constructed and more structured, unlike 10-15 years ago when I used to be a correspondent and we had just 2-3 news channels.

Also, now that we have a-la-carte, people can pick and choose channels that they want to watch from the cable or DTH platforms. There is more transparency and options.

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