Television

'Zee Studio has concrete plans to beef up its original programming' : Sujay Kutty - Zee Studio senior VP, business head

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/tv-images/2015/11/28/Sujay%20Kutty.jpg?itok=rI6azW89

The fight among the English movie channels is getting fiercer as new players have entered the battleground. Zee Studio has decided to go aggressive this year by upping its premiere runs on the channel. The plan is also to launch an original show every month.

The focus this year will be to grow particularly in the smaller towns. Zee Studio is also launching a wap application to take advantage of new media opportunities.

In an interview with Indiantelevision.com's Ashwin Pinto, Zee Studio senior VP, business head Sujay Kutty talks about the challenges of the English movie broadcasting business and the channel's growth plans.

Excerpts:

With more players joining the fray, has the English movie genre seen growth in terms of viewership and advertisers?

As of now, there are seven players in this market. With the advent of new players, the quality and variety of movies on the small screen has definitely improved.

We will also see unique niches being created where you will have some channels showing big premieres and others sticking to popular titles which get ratings despite being aired many times like Terminator 2, Spiderman, Pirates Of The Caribbean.

So will you be increasing your premiere runs on the channel?

The number of premieres has grown considerably. We have 18 premieres lined up for the year with the likes of Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Wrestler and How to Lose Friends - all close to their theatrical release.

Is that the key to growing your share?

Premieres bring an element of freshness to the channel and are definitely more saleable as the films have not been exploited earlier by other channels. Also, most of the satellite premieres we pick are scheduled very close to their theatrical release which helps in ensuring a quick recall in the viewers' minds and helps create buzz around them.

But isn't sourcing big title content difficult as market leaders Star Movies and HBO have the big studios behind them?

We buy content from all the major studios and have a great relationship with Disney, Warner and Sony. Also, we have done business with studios like Fox and NBCU in the past. Moreover, a lot of independent distributors have access to first runs. There are also cinematic gems from various festivals that we pick up.

Is a trend emerging to spruce up the English movie channels with original content?

There is a gap in terms of local content being done in this genre. Zee Studio has concrete plans to beef up its original programming. We will unveil our second product in October-November. A host-based quiz show around movies is on the cards. While talks are on with a number of production houses, it's a little too early to discuss the show.

The plan is to have one show every six months. If you do it more, then the novelty can get lost. We will get into many formats except reality shows. Original content helps connect with the consumers and opens up marketing opportunities.

'With newer players entering the markets and major studios coming up with their own channels, content availability will be a source of concern'

How successful have you been in your earlier endeavour?

As far as local programming goes, we already have Get Shorty, our short film contest for the audience. We ask aspiring filmmakers to submit their entries between 2-10 minutes in length. It is a four half-hour episode show. The filmmakers talk about their short film and why they made it. The jury includes personalities from the industry like Anurag Kashyap. Last time around 17,0000 viewers voted for what they felt was the best entry out of the 18 films that were aired.

We are planning the third season for this show and it goes on air later this year. Currently, we are planning more shows with the basic aim of involving our audience.

Your sister channel Zee Cafe tried localisation but the response was mixed. What lessons have been learnt from this?

On the contrary, local productions always create talking points and an instant connect with the audience. We have got a positive response to Zee Café's Café Mic Testing. The trick is to make the 'homegrown' content as interesting and unique as the shows we acquire abroad. With Café Mic Testing, we tried a unique blend of a talent hunt and a game show.

But doesn't your budget go up with local content?

It does! However there are different ways to do local content. You can create a huge programme like a GEC. For us there is no need to be extravagant and have a big budget. Our aim is to get to a specific audience.

The purpose is two fold. Firstly you create affinity for the channel among viewers by showcasing homegrown talent. Secondly you build local talent as a base that can be used for the future. The ad revenue that we earn more or less take care of programming costs.

While the share of Zee Studio has gone up marginally, it is still in the fourth spot among the English movie channels. What is the gameplan to bridge the gap?

Zee Studio has been in the third spot for more than three weeks now. Our strategy focuses on initiatives that help us create direct consumer connect. This can be done through out-of-home marketing activities, SMS, mailers and, of course, our film club.

We intend to partner with film societies to showcase cinemas across metropolitan cities as an extension of our movie club initiative.

In the coming times, we are also launching an application on Wap-enabled phones that will let viewers download our weekly schedules.

Tam data shows that the time spent on English movie channels has gone up slightly. Zee Studio has also grown slightly but not much. What would you say are the reasons for this?

With more channels entering the genre, a viewer has many more options to choose from. Moreover, viewers have a wider choice for entertainment that is not restricted to television alone. So the time spent is not likely to show a significant increase across any channel in the genre.

Going forward, do you see viewership growth coming in from the small towns and cities or would metros be the main focus?

There is potential in the small towns and cities as well. Our subtitling speaks to this segment of audience. It is about targetting people who understand English, but have difficulty following the dialect. Subtitling helps them associate what is being said to the story. We have, thus, built our second rung base in places like Jaipur and Gujarat.

What role has subtitling played in growing the channel's reach?

We pioneered the initiative of subtitling for English films in India, starting it as early as August 2007. We realised that English is spoken very differently in different parts of the world, especially when you take into account colloquialisms, local slang and even sentence construction.

Subtitles invariably aid the user in tiding over these differences and absorbing the film in its entirety. Post introduction of subtitling, our films have most definitely reached out to a larger audience base.

What is the focus area of Zee Studio this year?

This year our focus is on on-ground initiatives, Shut Up and Watch film Club (Saw) and Studio Nites, the movie song karaoke championship.

Saw is aimed at taking quality cinema to the genuine movie enthusiasts across the country in the unique setting of a bookstore. Meanwhile, Studio Nites are evenings of 'Karaoke,' conducted at popular restaurants and clubs celebrating "music from the movies". Here, patrons win prizes from the channel for singing along to movie soundtracks.

What are the programming initiatives you have taken in the recent past?

Over the last six months, Zee Studio has made constant efforts to bring its audience some great programming content. January saw three weekends with the telecast of High School Musical 1 and 2 and a back-to-back telecast of the two films with just one commercial break. To generate excitement around High School Musical, Zee Studio announced Music For Charity. This was an online auction of a guitar autographed by Farhan Akhtar, Luke Kenny, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Vishal-Shekhar on its official website, www.zeedio.tv. High School Musical had an instant connect with the younger audience.

Moreover, we created some properties keeping the audience's needs in mind. One of these was 'Two Timing' where we would telecast two movies of a popular superstar back-to-back. The other is the 'In Express Highway' wherein a movie and its sequel are telecast back-to-back with just one break on Saturday afternoons.

From 1 April, Zee Studio moved its primetime to 9 pm following research findings that a majority of the audience tune in at 9. April also saw the introduction of Sunday Noonatics. This is a slot for light/entertaining flicks keeping the relaxed Sunday mood in mind.

What can we expect going forward?

We plan on introducing new festivals every month to give the channel a fresh and ever-changing look. This month Zee Studio will air Desi Tadka, a festival of films with an Indian connect.

September will have a lot of family movies. Going forward, viewers can look out for a Woody Allen Fest, Cinematic Jewels (critically acclaimed films) and more.

In a genre that is title-driven, how big a challenge is it to build brand loyalty?

At the end of the day, content is king. Marketing initiatives go a long way in driving brand awareness - be it on-ground initiatives, radio activations, print ads, hoardings, mobile marketing. They all ensure that a channel enjoys top-of-the-mind-recall when viewers are surfing the box for English movies.
Some English film channels do programming blocks for different TGs. Others do not. What are the pros and cons of this?

Programming blocks work well if one has a large library of films targeted towards each target group, absence of which results in repetition. It does help in clear communication, though, and also appointment viewing.
To what extent have acquisition costs gone up in recent times with new entrants?

It all depends on what you buy, keeping in mind the RoI as well as the channel image. So the acquisition cost keeps varying every year.
What are the challenges that English movie channels face in India?

With newer players entering the markets and major studios coming up with their own channels, content availability will be a source of concern. However, one has to wait and watch.

Latest Reads

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/07/26/Rising-Rajasthan.jpg?itok=SlWdNYhD
News18 Network's Rising Rajasthan to be held in Jaipur

MUMBAI: Rising Rajasthan is being organized by News18 Network today at the Clarks Amer in Jaipur.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/07/26/kargi%3B_0.jpg?itok=QUnoYYjc
On the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas News18 India visits Kargil War Memorial

26th July is a very significant date for Indians and is engraved in golden letters as Kargil Vijay Diwas in the annals of Indian history. This year will be the 18th anniversary of the Kargil War. News18 India visits Kargil, where every year the Indian Army celebrates Kargil Vijay Diwas.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/07/26/ind.jpg?itok=yhUMhwC3
Sony sports channels to broadcast India’s cricket tour of Lanka

The Sony Pictures Sports Networks will broadcast India cricket team’s tour of Sri Lanka, which kicks off on 26 July 2017. The recent rebranding of sports channels has helped Sony Pictures Network India (SPNI) to devote Sony SIX, Sony SIX HD, Sony Ten 3 and Sony Ten 3HD for cricket coverage in...

Television TV Channels Sports
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/07/26/india-today.jpg?itok=WUZXG-GE
India Today magazine featured as 'Cover of the Day'

The society of publication designers, New York on www.spd.org selected India Today magazine’s latest issue cover 31 July 2017 on the China – Pakistan issue as ‘The Cover of the Day’. This puts the India Today magazine amongst the best in the world to be featured for brilliance in cover design.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/07/26/MTV.jpg?itok=_sBGCugK
MTV to air new reality show 'Dropout Pvt Ltd'

MUMBAI: MTV launched a new reality show MTV Dropout Pvt. Ltd, presented by Droom.in, powered by Micromax and Maruti Suzuki and grooming partner Gillette which will see the birth of the world’s first ever start-up formed on television. Created by Monozygotic and co-developed by MTV and Monozygotic...

Television TV Channels Music and Youth
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/07/25/shruti.jpg?itok=QRu_q5yE
Shruti Anindita Varma appointed BAG Films' business & creative head

Veteran creative expert Shruti Anindita Varma has joined BAG Films & Media Ltd as the new business and creative head and will be responsible to drive its creative excellence, in-sync with the ongoing transformation of Media and Entertainment industry in Indian market.

Television TV Channels People
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/07/25/Punit-goneka-800x800%20%282%29.jpg?itok=KJDyzBsr
ZEEL reports steady Q1 FY2018 results

MUMBAI: It’s been a hectic first quarter of FY 2018 for homegrown media power house -- the Essel Group promoted Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel). The company has gone ahead for some corporate restructuring and has also declared its Q1FY2018  financials which, if not impressive, at least...

Television TV Channels GECs
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/07/25/DD-800x800_1.jpg?itok=dnHWjk4Z
DD announces short film contest on Independence theme

NEW DELHI: Doordarshan has announced a Swatantra Bharat Short Films Contest to mark the 75th anniversary of Quit India Movement and 70th anniversary of India's Independence next month. The aim is to create awareness, education, encouragement and enlightenment about inspiring, real-life stories of...

Television TV Channels Terrestrial
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/drupal7.indiantelevision.co.in/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2017/07/25/NDTV-newsroom.jpg?itok=rwNsboTL
NDTV restructures biz & newsroom amidst reports of layoffs

NEW DELHI: Buffeted by allegations of tax evasion and money laundering, which are being contested in appeal tribunals, one of India’s first private sector TV news organization NDTV has said it is reorganizing newsroom set-up and resources available to adapt to changing technologies like MoJo or...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories