ZEEL to launch Malayalam GEC, regional movie channels in FY19

MUMBAI: ZEEL is looking to fill the gap in its regional portfolio by entering Kerala market and launching movie channels in regional markets where it doesn’t have one.

In FY19, ZEEL will be launching a Malayalam GEC in addition to adding movie channels in existing markets like Tamil, Kannada, and Bhojpuri where it doesn’t have a movie channel.

Malayalam is the only gap in ZEEL’s Southern portfolio. The company has appointed Deepti Pillay Sivan as the business head of the Malayalam GEC. The media conglomerate had launched Telugu movie channel Zee Cinemalu in September 2016. It also has movie channels in Marathi and Bengali markets.

“We will be adding Kerala market this fiscal and we are looking at other genres within the existing regional markets,” ZEEL MD and CEO Punit Goenka told analysts during a post-earnings conference call.

ZEEL Head – Strategy, Investor Relations and Business Development Bijal Shah said that the company will complete its movie acquisition for upcoming regional movie channels and digital platform ZEE5 in FY19.

“In FY19, we would have been done with most of our movie buying. Most of the repository that we need to launch regional movie channels and also for digital offering, the kind of plans that we have, we would have probably acquired most of what we need,” she stated.

Talking about ZEE5, Goenka said that the consumption on the platform is largely driven by TV content. The company has released a very small quantity of content on the platform. However, the company has an aggressive original content slate for ZEE5 which will drive future growth in consumption.

“As of now we have put a very small quantum of original content on ZEE5, we have not yet opened up the floodgates. On the consumption, today it is largely driven by our television content as well as the movie library which is there. Our first tentpole property on digital will be launched in the month of June and that is when you will start seeing traction in terms of viewership,” he said.

Queried whether sports is a missing piece in ZEE5’s content portfolio, Goenka said original content and movies are enough to get good traction. He, however, stated that sports is an easy hook to get consumers to pay for content.

“We do believe that original content, as well as movies, is good enough traction for attracting consumers to our platform. The other thing is the quantum of content created in local languages, which is a very attractive factor, and we know it as we have seen on television that consumers consume content in their preferred language of viewing. The same should apply to even the digital platforms,” he noted.

ZEEL will be negotiating content deals with telecom operators to carry ZEE5 content on their platform. Goenka also said that the company will ask for a fair value of its content as and when it will re-enter the negotiation phase.

He also asserted that the growth trajectory of deals with telcos will be higher than the regular cable and DTH companies.

On TV subscription income, Goenka said that the industry is expecting an 11% to 12% growth. ZEEL is looking at low teen growth number on the subscription side.

Explaining the dip in previous subscription revenue, Goenka said that the number was a bit lower than expected due to the fact that one reasonable size player has gone away from the market in the DTH segment. He was referring to Videocon d2h’s merger with Dish TV India.

“That has also led to a certain amount of slow down for us. Having said that, given the current situation, we are largely in the fixed fee regime itself and we are a low teens kind of growth,” he stated.

He also said that a large part of the subscription revenue hike is coming from Phase-III market as the ARPUs in Phase-I and Phase-II has not moved significantly.

ZEEL will release 10 films in FY19 and might add one or two more over and above that. “So, 10 films have been locked in already which will be releasing in the financial year 2019. We may be adding one or two films more to that. These are predominantly in the Hindi and Marathi language segment,” he revealed.

The original programming hours on Zee TV will be capped at 35 hours. It currently stands at 32.5 hours. On other channels, the programming hours vary between 20 hours and even as much as 60 hours on some of the channels, Goenka said.

You may be interested