‘Re-understanding what consumers want and innovating will drive growth for any channel'
Samrat Ghosh and Amarpreet Saini share journey of Zee Biskope launched in January this year
Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) expanded its regional presence in the beginning of the year with the launch of Zee Biskope, a movie channel for Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh markets.
The network claimed that in the first week after its launch in January 2020, Zee Biskope was a leading channel with 145 GRPs. With the coronavius pandemic and eventually the lockdown that started in March, the channel has gone through the grinds of the market and evolved with a strong foothold and a sustained leadership. It has witnessed a huge growth in viewership, CS 2+ 140 GRPs vs bhojpuri cinema 134 GRPs (Wk 16-23).
Talking about Zee Biskope's journey, Samrat Ghosh, Cluster Business Head, East, ZEEL said, “We launched the channel in January, and post March, lockdown happened. Despite that, the journey so far for Zee Biskope has been really fantastic. Soon after the launch, we became the market leader. The viewership of the channel has been encouraging as we garnered ratings that were the highest that the market has seen. After two-three months of launch, we hit the pandemic situation which impacted the entire industry. Now, when businesses are coming back to normal, we too have bounced back. From the brand perspective, we always have the core of everything that we think consumers will consider watching. This helped us bounce back faster than other competitor channels.”
Sharing more on the channel's journey, Amarpreet Saini, Business Head, Zee Biskope & Big Ganga, ZEEL, shared, “What makes us believe that it will be a successful journey is that we launched a channel with a lot of research and consumer understanding. For the first time, we were bringing a very curated channel, something which is not attempted in the category. The viewership numbers are the verdict that our approach was right.”
He further said, “The channel was leading the market consistently during the lockdown and even post lockdown purley on the back of the fact that it didn't commoditize the base of movies. It gave a specific shape and structure to consumers’ needs. Post pandemic there was a shift and it has been happening throughout the entertainment industry. Movie viewership has surged and we benefited from it once again. Now when Unlock is happening, the category itself is going under some flux. But we still have retained our prime-time viewership and are working towards gaining the overall leadership as well.”
Not just Zee Biskope but, according to Ghosh, the Odisha and Bengal markets too witnessed a surge in viewership mainly due to an increase in news and movie consumption during the lockdown phase. Ghosh informed that even in the lockdown, the network kept introducing and launching new formats. For instance, Zee Sarthak, which is an Odia GEC, launched an original show shot completely on a mobile phone. “Even during the lockdown period, in the absence of original content, Zee was a differentiator in the east market. Zee Sarthak launched a show which was completely shot on mobile phones. Zee Bangla too launched unique shows both in the fiction and non-fiction spaces.”
The innovation was followed by Zee Biskope as well. “As part of ZEE cluster's thought process of innovation and customer centricity, we launched a show, Chat Bhojpuriya Loota Leheriya, on Zee Biskope entirely shot on a mobile phone. The entire east cluster was doing such innovations for their respective channels. The whole thought was that originals and innovation should not stop,” added Saini.
With the festive season underway, Zee Biskope too have planned a robust programming line-up to gain both viewership and revenue. Also, the channel is going beyond movies and plans to have original shows too.
Saini said the festive calendar for Zee Biskope is very robust with a lot of film festivals, world television premieres and news shows planned for the entire period, starting from September. “The entire line-up has been designed with a thought that people will still be at home. The festivity will be different this year. The idea is to create a sense of festivity through our platform and engage consumers. We are very confident that advertisers are also looking at robust festive programming which they can use to build their reconnect with consumers,” he elaborated.
The festive season is set to bring cheers not just for the consumers but also for the broadcasters. Ghosh shared that from the industry perspective, revenue is coming back to pre-COVID levels. FMCG played a very important role in overall advertising during lockdown; the category contributed majorly.
Post lockdown there has been a revival. And now with festivals and unlocking happening, there is a bounce back. There are other categories as well that are likely to spend more during the festive season, including automobile, real estate and consumer durables, he added.
The first half of the year was a complete washout in terms of revenue owing to pandemic. In the second half, which looks much better than the first half, Ghosh believes that catering to consumer needs correctly will be the main key growth driver for any channel.
Stating similar thoughts, Saini shared, “There is movie entertainment, TV entertainment and music entertainment that we would be able to serve rightly. There should be a new way of looking at entertainment and that is going to be our key driver for ZEE cluster. We would need to innovate, re-understand what people want, and whosoever will get it right, will serve it right. The major growth driver will be to not go by pre-written rules, we have to create new rules now.”
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