Q1 this year saw 46% increase in subscription revenue: Prathyusha Agarwal, ZEEL

The CMO of ZEEL says it’s a misnomer that advertisers are only looking to invest in digital this festival season

e4m by Moumita Bhattacharjee
Updated: Oct 11, 2019 8:17 PM

It’s been six months since the New Tariff Order (NTO) was implemented, and a lot of trends have emerged since then. During the transition period, it led to a decline in viewership and AdEx. However,  Prathyusha Agarwal,  CMO, ZEEL, said total TV viewership has increased by 1.5% in Q1 2020 over Q1 2019.

Talking about the trends ZEEL observed as a network, Agarwal points out, “The pay only channels have seen a 5 per cent rise at an all-India level, and a 10 per cent rise at an HSM level. This is a very good sign for us because people are kind of moving towards it. If we were to look at it to counter the popular belief about a decline, the Q1 of this year is 1.5% ahead of Q1 of last year (in terms of overall TV viewership).”

"And with the festive season coming in, there’ll again be a big revival. In terms of subscription revenues, there’s been a 46 per cent increase, and it clearly goes to show the strength of our channels and the pull that they have,” she shares.

Explaining how the viewership of regional channels have shot up, Agarwal says, “Our regionals have really been performing very well for a while now, especially in the last quarter. If we were to look at the growth, it’s been driven in a big way by Bangla and Kannada, which have not just gone to No. 1 position, but has a clear leadership. So, in the Marathi and Bangla markets, our share is more than (the share of) No. 2 and No. 3 put together. That’s the kind of growth we have seen. Kannada is 10 share points higher than the nearest competition. So, with regionals performing that well, the post-NTO scenario has worked very well in favour of ZEE.”

Agarwal believes that the next set of growth will come from the towns that will be regional in nature. So, there will be more of an additive investment rather than a shift in investment.

It is believed that NTO has impacted the English Cluster in a big way. Agarwal, however, does not agree.

“This is another trend that we have seen and is counter to the popular belief on English Cluster. We’ve seen that our subscriptions have been really positive. We saw 30 per cent upward trend in HD, which gives you a very positive sign that people who actually consume these channels and have a certain affinity towards a certain kind of content, are choosing them.”

This also works from the advertisers’ point of view as they have a ready availability of premium audience for their product.

“For an advertiser who wants these premium audiences and there are no spots available on OTT, these channels become the primary mode to get access to the premium consumers. And hence, that’s another reason why I feel like the narrative that’s being built (on English Cluster getting impacted) is not so true.”

Going forward, Agarwal is extremely positive that the festive season will bring in a revival. And she wants to squash the belief that advertisers are only looking to invest in digital.

“More than the NTO, it is was economic slowdown that impacted Q1. But Q2 definitely seems to have seen a revival, because somewhere people will try to jumpstart the consumption. And going into festival, a lot of advertisers have come back with a bang. It’s a misnomer that people will not invest (in TV), and will invest in digital. Any marketer worth his salt knows that digital CPC is extremely expensive, whether it’s for brand building and video, or whether it is performance marketing. If I don’t have TV to optimise my plan, it’s not going to work.”

Following the implementation of NTO, many broadcasters, including ZEEL, removed their GECs from DD Free Dish and turned them into pay channels.

When asked if removing Zee Anmol from the platform worked in ZEEL’s favour, Pratyusha says, “That’s a category building move. When somebody is used to consuming something free, it will take them a while to pay and come on to the channel. It’s been only six months and we are hoping that the migration starts happening a lot more. While they were watching five channels initially, they are watching only one now. They watch it so much that the larger trend we see is that boredom has set in and TSV (Time Spent Per Viewer) will go down.”

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