2019: A year that was for English GECs

In 2020, consumer experience alongside engaging content will be key growth drives for English GECs


MUMBAI: 2019 was all about implementation and the impact of new tariff order (NTO). It has been a year of disruption and innovation for the industry. Overall it was a challenging year for niche channels but throughout the year, channels made various efforts to overcome them and retain its consumer base. Going forward in 2020, leading English GECs, Zee Café and Colors Infinity, plan to offer innovative and engaging content to strengthen their subscriber base. The sector hopes for stability and positive growth in the broadcast industry. 

“NTO implemented in Feb 2019 impacted reach and ad sales and broadcasters have been managing this change to get to a new equilibrium. We hope proposed tweaks to the regulation will further help stability,” says Times Network MD and CEO MK Anand. “Consolidation in the M&E sector will continue in FY'20. This will have a positive impact on cost efficiencies and the overall competitiveness of the broadcast industry.”

“After months of tepid and negative performance across the board, some ad categories are expected to see a resurgence in FY'20, which will be a welcome respite to broadcasters,” he adds. 

Zee Café’s big focus for the year ahead is to drive subscriber value. “Consumer experience alongside engaging content will be key to driving growth. Businesses that quickly adapt to the new tariff regime and align growth levers to solve for relevant consumer needs will ultimately benefit,” says ZEE Entertainment premium cluster business head Kartik Mahadev. 

Similarly, Viacom18’s English cluster will bring unique international content and continue to explore more concepts that attract viewers, partner brands and sponsors. It will continue to consolidate and bolster by engaging with consumers and offer the best of international content, awards, music events and homegrown content. Adding new shows to the existing line-up as well as broadcasting the biggest entertainment events and music awards including the Golden Globe Awards, Billboards, American & Europe Music Awards, Brit Awards, and the Grammy Awards amongst others.

Viacom18 Youth, Music & English Entertainment head Ferzad Palia says: “2019 has been a year of disruption for the entire entertainment industry and we’ve embraced it to the fullest. These changes challenged broadcasters to retain and expand their consumer base, while making consumers more aware of their entertainment habits and the value that comes with individual choices.”

“Despite the many industry-wide challenges, we have maintained our leadership position with consistent performance across all our channels thus our ratings continue to surge in an upward trend. In terms of market share, we continue to hold a lion’s share of the pie, currently being around 71 per cent in the month of Nov’19 (GEC + Music), even more than 2017.

While the expectation has always been for light or infrequent viewers to drop off, the heartening part is that we have managed to increase consumption from our loyal base and also acquire fresh subscribers through a solid content offering and innovative outreach programmes,” he further adds. 

Strategies adopted by the channels to overcome the challenges in 2019

Maintaining a balance of quality and variety has been pivotal in adapting rapidly in terms of retaining and attracting new viewers. In a conscious effort to reach newer, younger audiences the channels went beyond conventional promotional methods and practices through innovative and clutter-breaking marketing campaigns.

“2019 has been a year of significant disruption and innovation for Zee English Cluster. By far, one of our biggest achievements has been to be able to offer World Television Premieres to our viewers, reducing the wait time for Hollywood blockbuster movies’ television release by half. Hollywood movie fans can now watch their favourite movies within months of release. Zee English cluster also gave consumers the choice to watch their favourite movies and World Television Premieres in their native language - Hindi, Tamil or Telugu, alongside English. This has successfully enabled us to widen our audience base delivering a better channel experience to the Zee Prime English pack subscribers,” says Mahadev

On Zee Café, the third season of BBC First, our flagship programming block, was extremely

successful and well-received by our discerning audience. The channel has also upheld its legacy by bringing multiple award-winning dramas and mini-series such as the Golden Globe nominee ‘The Loudest Voice’, Season 16 of the Golden Globe winner ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, the Emmy Award winners ‘Counterpart Season 2’ and ‘McMafia’, as part of ‘Along With The US’ and ‘Hollywood On Café.’ Shows that were “TV First” and mini-series as a strategy worked well for Zee Café in strengthening engagement with its audience.

Examples of Viacom18 English cluster’s innovative campaigns in 2019:

1) Colors Infinity – BFFs With Vogue – For its 3rd successive season, television’s most riotous Bollywood chat show BFFs With Vogue hosted by the sassy Neha Dhupia, received an overwhelming response from audience, as well as clients. Complementing the extensive ATL campaign that included multi-city Outdoor and Radio promotions, COLORS INFINITY launched ‘The BFF Quiz’ – a pioneering Amazon Alexa voice skill for the show, voiced by the show’s host Neha Dhupia. It further recreated an ARVR-version of Neha’s cosy and exclusive loft for BFFs With Vogue, that gave viewers a life-sized virtual step-in tour to the loft.

2) Comedy Central – FRIENDS – Marking the milestone 25th anniversary of Friends, Comedy Central India and Warner Bros. Television Group brought a specially created replica of the iconic Central Perk orange couch to India. This unique experience gave loyal fans an opportunity to re-enact and re-live the countless indelible moments from the show. Taking the anniversary celebration a few notches higher it also rewarded the winner of the ‘Wackiest Friends Fan’ contest with a paid trip to New York and a visit to the sold-out Friends 25 Pop-Up Experience along with a friend.

3) Vh1 – World Music Day – For the first time ever, two music powerhouses – MTV Beats and Vh1 India curate a 24-hour LIVE music festival on World Music Day on Facebook and Instagram. In this 24-hour long musical gig, that transcended beyond genres, over 40+ India’s most popular musicians, including a string of B-town artists like Darshan Raval, Aparshakti Khurana, Aastha Gill alongside Indie musicians like Zaeden, Sickflip, Su Real and many more, collaborated to perform their best songs live. Giving fans an experience of a lifetime. The campaign reached 60Mn+, 25Mn+ impressions, 5Mn+ engagement and overall, 10Mn+ people viewed the live across 24 hours.

Plans for 2020

“We’re also the first-choice for brands when it comes to AFPs (Advertiser Funded Programming). In 2019, Comedy Central partnered with Sterling Reserve to create a talent hunt for the next comedy sensation with Sterling Reserve Comedy Project hosted by the witty Varun Thakur. And we’ll continue to explore more concepts that attract viewers, partner brands and sponsors. Additionally, our unique on-ground and digital marketing initiatives that engage the massive new-age audience, continues to deliver higher visibility in the market,” said Palia.

The year ahead promises to be very exciting for the Zee English cluster. It is a milestone year for Zee Café, the pioneering English entertainment channel, as it turns 20! To commemorate the occasion, the channel has special plans to engage with its discerning consumers. Drama being the biggest strength of the channel, it will continue showcasing award-winning and compelling shows. 

“With our upcoming property ‘Greatest Of All Time’ we are very excited to showcase the most iconic and anticipated dramas such as Star Trek: ‘Discovery’, ‘Dynasty’ and ‘Penny Dreadful’. Continuing to feature diverse genres, the channel will also curate light-hearted conversational content with shows that are locally nuanced such as ‘Not Just Supper Stars’ and ‘Starry Nights - Gen Y’ which will go on- air early next year. The upcoming season of Starry Nights features the next generation of Bollywood stars who are hyper-connected and have a following, in an unfiltered conversation that is real and relatable,” informed Mahadev.

Latest Reads

Industry hopes pinned on a better 2020 for mainline advertising

2019 was a mixed bag of opportunities and challenges for the advertising industry. Television primarily witnessed a great drop in its growth with an ambiguous first quarter because of the new tariff order and a slow final quarter because of the economic slowdown.

Specials Year Enders
TV & video people who made an impact in 2019

Even as the curtains have gone down on 2019, Indiantelevision.com is happy to reveal its list of senior executives from the business of TV and video, who were constantly under the arc light throughout the year or made waves on account of something they did.

Specials Year Enders
Best moment marketing trends of 2019

MUMBAI: Brands have always been serious about their marketing plans. They spend months strategising their campaigns, involve the best of the technicians and talents to aid the creative process, and try to come out with communications that build trust among their target consumers. But the changing...

Specials Year Enders
How has 2019 been for youth and music category?

In its 25 years of running, MTV has set many benchmarks in the youth entertainment genre cementing itself as the Universe of the Young. Undisputedly, India’s No 1 Youth Entertainment Brand, MTV reaches out to over 300 million homes today and witnessed a whopping 20 billion minutes of watch time on...

Specials Year Enders
2019 - A year of high action for the television news industry

Back in the day, a typical morning in an Indian household was incomplete without a cup of tea and a hefty printed newspaper. This might sound primitive to the current generation of digital natives but newspapers were, and, in fact, still are, a key source of news for many people.

Specials Year Enders
Higher investment in content & tech, innovative marketing strategy led OTT industry in 2019

The over-the-top (OTT) market in India turned more saturated in 2019. To make a dent in the cluttered space, the contenders have significantly upped their game with a greater amount of high-quality original content, incorporating new technologies and increasing marketing spend.

Specials Year Enders
OTT India 2019 – key trends and crystal ball gazing for 2020

While  creating this write up on something that’s as wide and far as India OTT we decided to be as objective as possible and use data to establish and talk about some key trends that we see both unique as well as interesting on how the sector is evolving. App Annie is a third-party app analytics...

Specials Year Enders
Despite maximum internet shutdowns, digital advertising enjoyed heyday throughout 2019

MUMBAI: Year 2019 was a tough slide for the advertising industry in India. The traditional model suffered because of the ambiguity over new tariff orders and the sector jumped into a reeling spiral because of the economic crunch. But there were not many hurdles to stop the magnificent growth of...

Specials Year Enders
2019: Media and entertainment deals that did not happen

MUMBAI: Can the mainstream media get it right? That’s a question we, at indiantelevision.com, asked through the year.  Canards, canards, canards, and more canards are what we read in the mainline dailies. Of course, it cut across politics, business, lifestyle, and what have you. But the business...

Specials Year Enders

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories