ZEEL on course to launch four regional channels: Punit Goenka

MUMBAI: Media conglomerate ZEEL is on course to launch four regional language channels. These include regional movie channels in Kannada, Tamil, and Bhojpuri besides a Punjabi channel.

The company has already acquired a large number of films for the regional movie channels due to which its inventory has increased to Rs 4305.9 crore as on 30th September compared to Rs 3850.5 crore till 30th March 2019.

“We are on track for the launch of new regional channels in line with our annual plans,” ZEEL MD and CEO Punit Goenka told analysts during the Q2 earnings conference call.

On the increase in inventory during the quarter, Goenka explained that these inventories have accumulated as the company has not launched the channels yet.

“And therefore, it got passed into the P&L as the [sitting agreement]. So I had a plan to launch a Kannada movie channel, a Tamil movie channel, a Bhojpuri movie channel and a Punjabi channel. Four channels are still not launched from which are accumulated in a lot of libraries,” he added.

Queried about the impact on ad revenue, Goenka said ZEEL has grown at 2% despite the fact that the TV industry has seen a de-growth of 4%. He further stated that the festive season itself will drive some amount of advertising growth for the industry.

“We are seeing — and I don’t mean so much more for the industry than for us, because given our network share and given our consolidated market positioning gives us far better leverage to negotiate with the advertisers,” he noted.

Goenka conceded that ZEEL‘s network share has seen a drop due to the conversion free to air (FTA) channels to pay. “Yes. It’s largely on account of that. There may be some movement in the listing portfolio, but that will be miniscule. In fact, the FTA channel contributed for more than 2% of viewership share for the network. So it was actually prior to that even a 20%-plus, so which is now at 18.5%.”

On the issue of reduction in the a-la-carte price of key channels, Goenka clarified that it is a promotional activity and is not a change in perpetuity. In any case, any promotional activity cannot be for more than three months as per the new tariff order. He also pointed out that the bouquet pricing remains unchanged.

“The total number of à la carte channel penetration in our country for us, which is less than 10%, so I don’t see a major impact on our revenues. Only it should help us increase reach, if at all, and therefore higher pricing revenues,” Goenka sated/

He also stated that out of ZEE5‘s 8.9 million daily active users, as much as 95% plus are from India. The platform’s user base is skewed in favour of the female audience in the 18-28 age bracket. “So I think the split last when I saw was about 57% skewed to females and 43% to males which is very familiar to what is on television.”

After rolling out ZEE5 in APAC and the MENA region, the next target is to launch in the UK and Europe and then finally the US at the end.

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