How Zee re-oriented its international strategy in FY2019-20

NEW DELHI: With the world grappling with a slowdown and a potential recession, companies have been tinkering around with their domestic and international strategies. India’s leading broadcaster Zee Entertainment Enterprises (Zeel)- which had been grappling with its own ownership issues -  is no different. Even as it has realigning its domestic business to build its digital offerings and some niche television channels, it has been doing the clipping some services in some markets, while adding some in others internationally. 

Recognised as one of the most international of India’s TV networks, Zeel has been serving content in 19 languages, including nine foreign ones, through its channels which reach more than 170 countries.

It follows a two-pronged strategy for internationally– reaching the Indian and south Asian diaspora with channels in Indian languages and serving the non-Indian audience in their native languages, as it
says in its annual report for FY 20.

The change is mostly perceptible in Europe. Three channels were shut down in the UK in 2019-20, which is now a primarily an FTA market for south Asian networks. Zee One, a network channel – which it tomtommed two years ago - was also shut down in Germany in May 2020.

The network has strengthened its distribution reach in the US with a multiscreen platform presence across smart TVs, mobile, and set top box devices. It signed new distribution deals in Mexico, Peru, and Trinidad and organized the first-ever Indian Film Festival at the Embassy of India in Mexico City.

During the year, Zeel also worked towards increasing the distribution reach of its channels in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia. A total of eight productions were executed in the year of which three were in Tamil.

In Africa, the distribution reach of Zee Magic was expanded on new platforms (on digital entertainment platforms StarTimes and Starsat) and Zee Alem was introduced in the Ethiopian market in June 2020. This channel is in Amharic language.

Zeel was impacted in the middle east and north Africa (MENA) region owing to the shutting down of the south Asian language Pehla platform from OSN, one of the largest DTH operators, in the region. However, the network expanded its reach in the UAE and Qatar through the  launch of new channels on existing platforms and three local Arabic series productions in Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon based on stories that were picked from the Zee format library.

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