Regional markets to fuel English entertainment channels' growth: ZEEL's Kartik Mahadev

The Zee English cluster added many shows and brands during lockdown.

MUMBAI: The Covid2019 pandemic has given a boost to indoor activities such as TV viewing but specific genres such as English GECs, lifestyle and infotainment channels have been immensely impacted as their limited audience switched to streaming platforms. ZEEL premium channels business head Kartik Mahadev says that television came across as a trusted medium during the lockdown and the audience finds content on television compelling and comforting.

Mahadev says that the channel saw significant growth in TV viewership, led by more walk-ins as well as more time spent on television. Data shared by the network show that Zee English cluster of channels grew by 93 per cent (Week 12 – week 22 vs week 1 to week 11 as per BARC data). &flix had 56 mins (week 12 – week 22 as per BARC data) average weekly time spent on the channel.

For English GECs, the similarity of content on OTT platforms is a concern. Mahadev says, “There is no doubt that digital video platforms are here to stay. However, today we live in an AND world, not an OR world. Studies reveal that consumption of overlapped content between TV and OTT grew on television from 59 per cent pre-NTO to 82 per cent contribution post-NTO for sitcom, drama, reality genres. It naturally follows that navigation between screens is seamless and consumption on TV and digital is complementary in nature.”

According to Madison Media Sigma CEO Vanita Keswani, English GECs losing their audiences to OTT platforms is not a recent phenomenon. “They have been largely impacted due to the disruptions caused by Covid2019. Apart from that there is profitability pressure. Covid2019 is putting a lot of pressure on broadcasters and English niche is the first under scrutiny for survival,” she says.

Mahadev believes that regional markets will continue to fuel new user growth for English entertainment channels. This also includes a whole set of audience moving from regional to English content as they become more comfortable with English as a professional, conversational language.

He adds, “We have designed unique offerings such as multi-language block on &flix and locally nuanced content on Zee Café, that will stand out as enablers of bringing an aspirational, English-comfortable audience onboard. Recently, for the premiere of Jumanji: The Next Level on &flix and a simulcast in Hindi on Zee Cinema, we successfully reached a wider audience by providing access through language.”

Post lockdown, Zee Café has added 256 hours of content to cater to the growth in walk-ins within the genre, including latest dramas such as Nancy Drew and Evil, popular sitcoms such as Seinfeld and I Dream of Jeannie along with the original airings of the celebrity chat show Starry Nights GEN Y.

“Television provides youth-focused brands and premium brands the opportunity to associate with a premium subscriber base that is defined on the basis of their content choice. This sort of content and platform synergy for brands to associate with is not available on OTT platforms where English content is behind a paywall,” he points out.

Some of the brands that came on board as a partner for the property on &flix were Kia Motors, Ariel, Amazon, Airtel 4G, Xiaomi, Protinex and ITC along with Bingo Potato chips, Hyundai Creta, Behrouz Biryani, Bharat Matrimony and Cinthol. These brands were on board for the Hindi simulcast also. The channel has a new slate of premieres like Bad Boys For Life and Fantasy Island to entertain audiences.

Mahedev finds that while marquee international shows bring the best of the world to Indian viewers, locally-produced content allows adding a new dimension from the Indian point of view. “With India’s first-ever English fiction show Bombay Talking, Zee Café brought in relevance with content that is locally nuanced for the Indian viewer. What followed was the introduction of successful properties such as Look Who’s Talking with Niranjan, Not Just Supper Stars and Starry Nights that truly added a unique flavour to Zee Café’s wide repertoire of content,” he shares.

According to Samsika Marketing Consultants founder chairman and MD Jagdeep Kapoor, family viewing pushes down the priority of English GEC. “English GEC channels will now have to work on their programming. The nature of the show and specialisation will help them to stay in the business. The channels that are currently in the business will not only have to look at original content but also relevant content and solid programming. The ones who were not able to do that have lagged behind.”

In the coming months, Mahadev expects the trend in audience preferences towards light-hearted content, superhero flicks and adventure to pick up. With out-of-home entertainment options being limited in the new normal, he feels television will continue to be the entertainment destination for individuals and families. This immediate context is an opportunity for growth.

Latest Reads
Mukta A2 Cinemas enhances hygiene measures in preparation for lockdown end

Mukta A2 Cinemas has announced its readiness to resume nationwide operations once the ongoing lockdown comes to an end. In order to guarantee the safety of its patrons.

Television TV Channels Movie Channels
Media mogul Sumner Redstone dies at 97

The man who ruled over media for decades and is believed to have coined the famous cliche ‘Content is King’, Sumner Redstone, died on 11 August at the age of 97. The cause of his death was not mentioned.

Television TV Channels People
On this Independence Day, ZEE Keralam releases a video honouring the role of youngsters in making India a better place

Kochi: On the 74th Independence Day, ZEE Keralam brings out an inspiring video that honours the role of youngsters in building a bright and better India. The brand tagline of the channel, “Let's weave wonders in life”, is echoed in the short video. The video features youngsters from all walks of...

Television TV Channels Regional
Join Zee Thirai and Zee Tamil in celebrating the nation: enjoy an exciting line up of movies this Independence Day

This Independence Day, Zee Thirai and Zee Tamil present a marathon of blockbuster hits to mark the 73rd year of Indian Independence. In line with their shared mission to entertain their viewers, the channels have curated a compelling set of movies for viewers to raise their spirits and enjoy the...

Television TV Channels Regional
Zee Café celebrates 20 years of we-time moments

MUMBAI: A journey of unparalleled entertainment, of togetherness and of shared experiences; it’s been a thrilling 20 years for Zee Café, a name that is synonymous with the best of English entertainment. Zee Café has truly shaped the content choice of entire generations as it discovered unexplored...

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
Disney rebrands historic 20th Century Fox Television as 20th Television

KOLKATA: The historic brand in media and entertainment, 20th Century Fox, officially sees its end. Media conglomerate Disney announced that it would be rebranding 20th Century Fox Television as 20th Television.  According to media reports, the move is aimed at curtailing consumer confusion over the...

Television TV Channels GECs
This Independence Day, watch ‘India’s Forgotten Army,’ the untold story of India’s role in World War I, on History TV18

NEW DELHI: At the start of the war in 1914, over thirteen lakh Indian soldiers began to be shipped overseas to fight alongside the British Army. Of them, 75,000 were never to return home, killed in combat on faraway battlefields. Using rare archival footage, first-person narratives, and expert...

Television TV Channels Specialised and Niche
Colors and Balaji Telefilms gear up for 'Naagin' S5 with new writers, better VFX

TV viewers have finally been able to see their favourite characters on screen after unlock rules permitted shootings. Among the shows resumed is the popular Naagin on Colors. Viacom18 Hindi mass entertainment chief content officer Manisha Sharma.

Television TV Channels GECs
Hindi and South Indian GECs drive television viewership up; Sun TV back on Top across genres

Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) reported 1.73 percent growth in overall television impressions in week 30 of 2020 (Saturday, 25 July 2020 to Friday, 31 July 2020, week or period under review) to 17.6 billion weekly impressions from 17.3 billion weekly impressions in the previous...

Television TV Channels Viewership

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories

* indicates required