ZEEL’s initiatives to grow its English ent channels in 2017

MUMBAI: 2017 has been a busy year for ZEEL’s English channel business. After several years it added to its English channel portfolio with the premium English movie channel &Privé HD. As far as the English GEC Zee Café was concerned it boosted content with partnerships and initiatives like one with BBC Worldwide for a BBC First block. Going forward the focus in 2018 will to a large extent rest on making a serious effort to push the English movie channel Zee Studio.

Zeel business cluster head – premium, FTA GEC channels Aparna Bhosle noted that the company’s endeavour has always been to provide quality entertainment for the discerning audience. “With a great line-up of content, our aim has been to become the preferred channel for viewers. As a network, we have consciously tried to provide a bouquet of channels with shows and movies across genres that satiate the demand of the Indian consumers.

“With the number of HD users growing and the fact that consumption of English content is on a steady rise, this year our focus for the English Cluster has primarily been on offering world-class content coupled with dynamic marketing campaigns. The goal for 2017 goal has been to present great content for our audiences and deals and other acquisitions have been in line with that,” said Bhosle.

A premium English movie channel: For many years, ZEEL has had just two English channels, Zee Café and Zee Studio. But that changed in September when the premium English movie channel &Privé HD launched.

The channel has a library strength of 350 titles and promises to showcase 40 premieres. The channel’s name is derived from the French word Privé which means a personal or private place. The channel was curated keeping in mind audiences who crave for alternative Hollywood cinema. There is no content overlap with Zee Studio.

The channel targets the non-conformist viewer who wants content to challenge and help him/her explore. This is what the & brand also stands for. It plays to that need. Hence the channel was launched under the & brand. The channel focusses on six Metros and its TG is 22-50 NCCS A and the core TG is 30-45 NCCS A.

“In the last two years, we observed a growth in demand and scope in the premium English movie sector. Identifying and understanding this need gap enabled us to launch &Privé HD for our non-conformist audience,”Bhosle said.

She further stated that the increase in the number of HD users has opened up new avenues for premium quality English entertainment. “Hence, with &Privé HD we have taken the initiative of offering our viewers a wide range of high-quality content which has been curated to appeal to them,” said Bhosle.

The premium HD movie category, she explains, has seen a 55 % growth amongst NCCS A viewers in the last two years. “We had been tracking the trends and we believed that there was an immense potential for further growth. We did extensive research through focus groups, which clearly indicated a need and once we had the right library of curated movies, we launched the channel,” she stated.

According to research conducted by ZEEL, there is a distinct bifurcation between the audience’s demand for commercial and critically acclaimed cinema. The premium HD movie category has seen a remarkable growth of 67% between 2015 and 2016.

“There exists a strong audience of non-conformists, 44% to be precise, who have a clear mindset – they want to be original, aspire to do things differently, create their own path and inspire others while doing so. These people have a very different perspective of consuming premium English HD movies,” she added.

Shedding light on the market size, she noted that the number of viewers of English language content in India today is 220 million, out of which 60% comes from six metros and 40% comes from non-metros. Viewership contribution from non-metros has seen a rise of 20% as of 2016. English movies contribute to 27% of total English content in India.

In the last two years, the overall BARC universe has grown by 19% (153 Mn to 183 Mn) at a household level and 29% (675 Mn to 780 Mn) at an individual level. With the growth in overall sample size, the English movie genre also has grown at 16% (50 Mn to 58 Mn) household level and 26% (93 Mn to 115 Mn) at an individual level. (source: BARC)

As far as Zee Studio is concerned, the focus was to get the channel back in the reckoning in the mass English movie genre which is getting more and more competitive.

As part of this strategy, the channel aired blockbuster Hollywood movies with the ‘12 months 12 premieres’ property. Bhosle’s focus in the coming year will rest mostly on this channel and an important deal in this regard was the first output deal done with Sony. Previously, the deal was with SPNI. Thanks to the deal, ZEEL has got rights to movies like ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, ‘Blade Runner 2049’, ‘Baby Driver’, ‘The Emoji Movie’ and ‘Life’.

For Zee Café, the focus here has rested on keeping up with its promise of ‘All Eyes On New’ with the launch of two properties – ‘BBC First’ and ‘Hollywood On Café’ which aired some of the most critically acclaimed shows.

Bhosle explains that her aim for Zee Café has always been to give viewers riveting and engaging content. “With BBC First our content was designed to gratify the voracious appetite of the viewers. Keeping this in mind, we allied with the pioneers of world-class English entertainment content – BBC. It is a long-term deal with BBC where we will continue to curate content which we believe would be relevant to the Indian market,” she stated.

BBC First is a curation of critically acclaimed and award-winning original British drama, that focus on storylines and unforgettable characters. The aim was to ensure that viewers get to see premium British dramas which the broadcaster felt there was a lack of.

Hollywood On Café, she explains, is a high impact campaign, designed to reach out to the audience who demand scale and top quality in their content. It saw some of the biggest names from Hollywood like Pierce Brosnan, Jude Law, James Franco, Idris Elba, J.J. Abrams, Ridley Scott and Tom Hardy amongst others headlining 5 gripping new shows – Taboo, The Son, The Young Pope, 11.22.63 and Guerrilla.

All the shows, she noted, were top-rated dramas with an average IMDB rating of 7.5. “Our aim was to engage with our audience with a robust strategy of interactive content and striking visuals through TV, digital, radio, trade, OOH and print media. Each medium was explored keeping in mind the scale of shows and the unconventional storylines.”

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