Zee Thirai believes movies are more than just entertainment: Siju Prabhakaran

With the recently launched Tamil movie channel - Zee Thirai, Siju Prabhakaran, South Cluster Head, ZEEL, tells us why it is a good time to enter the Tamil movie space

e4m by Simran Sabherwal
Updated: Jan 27, 2020 9:16 AM
Siju Prabhakaran

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) recently launched a Tamil movie channel - Zee Thirai, its sixth channel in the South and second Tamil channel after the GEC, Zee Tamil. Commenting on why this was the time for ZEEL has entered the Tamil movie space Siju Prabhakaran, South Cluster Head, ZEEL says, "The GRPs for only Tamil movie channels is around 550 to 600 GRPs. In terms of viewership, the share of Tamil movie channels is almost 12% of the total viewership, and movies as a genre are the second-highest consumed genre after general entertainment. Apart from this almost 20-22% of the GEC space (in terms of programming) also have movies being played, which effectively adds around 500 GRPs. Combined, this is over 1,000 GRPs for movies which are played on general entertainment and movie channels and this is substantial.” He adds, “This is the only genre which has shown growth in its consumption viz-a-viz last year, and the movies channel’s share has grown from 11% to 12% of the total viewership. These are great signs to enter the market."

Focus on Differentiation

When it comes to daily TV consumption, Tamil Nadu consumers more than four hours of content daily and this is one of the largest time-spent markets in the country. In addition, the Tamil viewer has an emotional attachment to movies where stars are revered with demigod status. As per a recent BARC report, ‘Viewership of Movies In South India (Think Newsletter Nov 2018 – Oct 2019) 42 television channels telecast Tamil movies. So how does Zee Thirai differentiate itself in the over-cluttered space?

Says Prabhakaran, "Currently the movie channels offer movies as a commodity. For Zee Thirai, our brand proposition stems from the fact that movies are much more than just entertainment value. Our brand proposition is “Rathathil Kalandhadhu Cinema” (movies runs through your blood). Our promise to our viewers is that we celebrate and showcase movies in a way where viewers are able to identify it." As part of the differentiated offering, Zee Thirai properties include Theri Fridays: premiere blockbuster movies to be aired every Friday evening at 7 pm slot. This is a first of its kind offering by any movie channel in the regional space. m‘Naduvala Breaka Kanum: for consumers looking for a seamless movie experience, the afternoon time band offers no ad-breaks during a movie; Filter Kavyam: during the morning slot classic cult films from the 70s and 80s will be showcased.

Zee Thirai boasts of a library of over 400 movies and though the library consists of classics, as it is a relatively late entrant the library is skewed towards relatively newer movies. "When it comes to movies, we want to build a library which is worthy of the channel. It will have both star-driven and content-driven movies. We will continue to be aggressive in our acquisition," says Prabhakaran.

The Right Connect For Advertisers & Consumers

Commenting on the interest from advertisers on the new channel, Prabhakaran says that a movie channel is a great medium for any brand looking for reach as this genre also attracts viewers who are not regular viewers of GECs. He says, “This is a great advertising platform for brands such as FMCG brands, male-driven, youth-driven brands, autos, BFSI, telecom, e-commerce clients as the movie genre helps in the brand building saliency. Tamil Nadu has a strong retail market and retail brands have built their brands on frequency by advertising on movie channels, and we see huge prospects from the retail advertiser base going forward. Also, this is a genre that is growing and with differentiated movies being made, it is great value for an advertiser.” He adds, “Our focus is on offering the consumer a great product as when the viewer’s come on board, the advertisers will also follow. So, we first want to get the product and distribution.”

On the pricing front, Zee Tamil and Zee Thirai in the Zee Prime Pack are priced at Rs 12 along with other channels (Zee Tamil, Zee Thirai, Zee Action, Zee News, Zee Hindustan, Living Foodz, Zee ETC, WION, Zee Keralam, Zee Salaam). On a la carte basis, Zee Thirai is priced at Rs 5 but in the combo pack the movie channel is priced at Rs 2, and this is just an addition of Rs 2 to what the consumer is paying for Zee Tamil in the Zee Prime Movie Pack Tamil at Rs. 12 consisting of Zee Tamil, Zee Thirai along with other ZEEL channels.

Says Prabhakaran, “The viewer is smart enough today to decide the value of paying an extra 2 rupees (The Zee Tamil Prime SD Pack was earlier priced at Rs. 10) for a channel that will offer blockbuster movies, ad-free movies, premier titles and classics. The packaging of the channel is vibrant and the treatment is different from what is available in the market currently.”

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