Telugu movies are 'heart over head' content: Anuradha Gudur, Zee Telugu & Zee Cinemalu

Gudur, Business Head, Zee Telugu & Zee Cinemalu talks about the channel’s 3-year journey, the relevance of movie channels during the OTT age and the future of movie channels in the Indian market

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Updated: Oct 11, 2019 8:22 AM  | 6 min read


Anuradha Gudur

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited’s Zee Cinemalu completed three years in the month of September. Zee Cinemalu gained the highest ever ratings achieved by any movie channel in the Hyderabad market with BARC India ratings of 416 GRPs in Week 22, scoring a milestone of 300 GRPs in Urban in the same week. This set a new benchmark in the television industry, making Zee Cinemalu the only Telugu movie channel to achieve this feat.

In conversation with exchange4media, Anuradha Gudur- Business Head, Zee Telugu and Zee Cinemalu speaks about the channel’s 3-year journey, the relevance of movie channels during the age of OTT platforms and the future of movie channels in the Indian market.

On Zee Cinemalu’s 3 year journey

Telugu movies may best be described as “heart over head” content, wherein family sentiments, drama, action, singing and dance interludes take precedence over narrative complexities or storytelling innovations. This is a feeler’s medium. Hence, the idea was to hit the audiences’ heart in a young and stylish way. With a conscious call to have a movie library that has precedence to entertaining content over box office numbers, the channel derived at the brand line ‘Dil Pai Super Hit’. The channel has been entertaining audiences with evergreen hits and with latest titles in various genres like Family, Drama, Comedy, Horror and Thriller. In the process, Zee Cinemalu has successfully occupied a special space in the hearts of all Telugu audiences across the state. The Zee Cinemalu HD variant launched on December 31, 2017, continues to deliver the best viewing experience enabled with this technology to our ardent viewers.

The channel has moved from 107 GRPs in FY17 to 244 GRPs in FY20 in the urban market. In Hyderabad, it moved from the fourth position to first while GRPs moved from 103 in FY17 to 335 in FY20 (as on week 34 in 2019) posting a growth of 225 percentage. Zee Cinemalu moved from 90 GRPs in FY17 to 222 GRPs in FY20 (as on week 34 2019) in the total market which is 146 per cent growth. It also moved from fourth to second place in the total market while the share moved from around 15 per cent in FY17 to 28 per cent in FY20 (as on week 34 2019).

On innovative programming strategies

Zee Cinemalu was launched with a promise that viewers can experience World Television Premieres even on movie channels and that has been our primary focus. Through the years, we have managed to be successful in fulfilling our promise. We have offered freshness constantly to viewers with various genres of movies along with World Television Premieres and re-issues. We also had a unique concept where we aired 7 premieres on 7 days and that worked well for us.

On the relevance of movie channels during the age of OTT platforms

Despite OTT platforms, movie genre is growing in AP/Telangana in the last 3 financial years and in fact, more competitive post-TRAI NTO regime. Movie genre moved from 610 GRPs in FY17 to 788 GRPs in FY20 (as on Wk34) - 29% growth. What matters is here – individual vs family viewing - individual viewing happens on OTT platform and whereas movies on Television are for family viewing. And also viewing experience - watching movies on Television (SD & HD channels) gives greater and rich experience than watching movies on computer/laptop/mobiles.

On factors that led to the strong position of Zee Cinemalu

There is nothing called strong position in a highly competitive market like AP/Telangana however, Zee Cinemalu is in a formidable position within 3 years of its launch. Consistent no1: Is still a long way to go. In fact, we are in the process of capturing the Rural market as well as strengthening our current position.

On the future of movie channels in the Indian market

Every market has its own identity and hence we have to look at movie channels region/geographic specific. In our AP/Telangana market, Movies as a genre contributes 35-36% to total TV viewership and on an average, more than 260 movies (excluding cable channels) get exposed to viewers week-on-week which shows the appetite for movies in this market. And in fact, producers are planning to release Telugu movies pan India in theatres. As long as we add freshness to the channels, movie channels have life and in fact, nostalgia works here as movie channels broadcast movies from 1960-2019 movies from various genres - Movies are always for “Family Viewing” rather than “Individual viewing” as we have predominantly single TV households. To the overall TV viewership, Regional markets movie contribution is 25-30 % in South, HSM market it is 30 %, In AP & TS it’s high more than 30%.

On maintaining the ranking and viewership numbers

Zee Telugu has, over the years, established itself as a channel which is highly rooted in Telugu culture and family values while showcasing progressive narratives through young and aspirational characters. Be it through our aspirational characters or progressive narratives, we continue to showcase our brand philosophy ‘Aarambham Okka Aduguthone’ which translates to ‘It begins with one step’ and weave it through our content and help inspire women in the state to take those smaller steps in life that will lead them to greater achievements. Content is at the centre of our business and it will continue to be the focus in the coming months as well.

On strengthening content offering in Zee Telugu and Zee Keralam

Being a General Entertainment Channel, providing quality content is our goal. Keeping our viewers at the core, we design shows that are not just entertaining but also relatable. In addition, we constantly do Market Research to understand the viewers and get the insights only after which we derive at content.

On marketing and advertising strategies of Zee Telugu and Zee Cinemalu

Our marketing and advertising strategies are largely centred around our customers. We take great efforts to understand them through extensive market research which we conduct on an ongoing basis. The insights we obtain help us craft communication that engages with our customers. Over and above the market research we also engage with our viewers through PR and Social Media Marketing. These mediums of communication allow us to be in constant touch with customers.

Expansion plans for Zee Cinemalu, Zee Telugu, and Zee Keralam

We will continue to offer fresh content and entertain the viewers with World Television Premieres and also smaller films that don’t really have a big star cast. We have seen in the past that these movies have done really well for us. There are movies that are not box office hits but still the audience love watching them. We will continue to air such movies. We have had a number of new show launches on Zee Telugu in the last few months and the viewers seem to be enjoying these. We have certainly strengthened our content offering this year and will continue to do this. Additionally, when it comes to Zee Telugu and Zee Keralam, we have a strong line-up of fiction and nonfiction shows so we will be providing top-notch content to the audience in the coming days.

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