Report on Shemaroo

Zee Biskope to focus on launching in-house production & original shows in 2021

Zee Biskope holds 23 per cent market share in the Bhojpuri cinema category.

MUMBAI: Zee Biskope from Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZeeL) has managed to win the hearts of the audiences since its launch in 2019. As a new player in the Bhojpuri movies space that is already crowded (comprising Big Ganga, Enterr10 Rangeela, Bhojpuri Cinema, Humar TV, B4U Bhojpuri, and Oscars Movie Bhojpuri), the channel has attained the third spot on the pay platform in (U+R) market and carved a niche for itself.

Moreover, Zee Biskope has been a gamechanger in differentiation by continually curating viewer experience beyond just movies. Along with a stellar launch campaign, the brand has presented many initiatives including blockbuster premieres, curated movie festivals, and novel audience engagement drives throughout the year.

Extending the legacy of novelty to the celebration of its first anniversary, the channel is looking to expand its reach by creating its own content and shows. In conversation with’s Shikha Singh, Zeel Zee Biskope and Big Ganga business head Amarpreet Singh Saini and Zee Biskope lead brand management Jit Sengupta spoke at length about the channel’s vision going forward, content strategy, marketing, promotions, and much more.

Edited excerpts:  

On the 2020 report card

We started with the belief that the movie market in Bihar is very commoditised and the time is ripe for presenting something that is well-curated and born out of consumer insights. Hence we attempted Zee Biskope. All the strategies on content or its projection or its extension that we envisaged, achieved success. In the Bhojpuri category, it was the first channel in the number one position. Initiatives like the first Bhojpuri screening almost got a gate crash audience. Digital mascots Bhaiyaji and Gamchaji – a first in the Bhojpuri category – got a huge response as well as in viewership increment of more than 10 per cent on an average.  Also, we curate content specifically for the bands we have targeted. We stood corrected on the belief that audiences are ready to be super served so the brands will have to pull up their socks.

The Pandemic was a setback for the TV industry but the silver lining was that the news and movies genre flourished because of the lack of content on GECs. Non-prime time became bigger than prime time, there was a lot of family viewership that was happening. We repurposed our content, re-engineered our FPC, launched extended weekend bands, we did more premieres than usual. We knew the appetite was higher, and we gained the leadership position.

Now, closer to the anniversary date, the category is seeing a bit of a challenge with the comeback of Hindi channels on the Free Dish platform. There is a demand to go beyond showcasing a movie for greater viewer engagement. We are still holding the market share of 23 per cent in this category.

The movie festivals registered growth on an average of 25 to 30 per cent GRP in the category. In primetime, both on weekdays and weekends, we are the leaders. Even the engagement activities that we have done got an average of 10 to 20 per cent reach increment on the platform.

On distribution

It is content or movie acquisition from the vendor or movie producers, however, the added filter we apply into that is consumer insights on what kind of content or genres people are more amenable to. Post pandemic, theatrical releases have died down so we’re looking into the trend of TV-first or satellite, as well as direct movie releases. Apart from that, there are a lot of in-house movie productions which are happening. Currently, it is sourced from external vendors but in future we will create our own movies and build on that model.

On increasing recall

Going forward, content initiatives will remain the same but engagement activities will be the primary driver because their success has shown that the brand is more than a viewership-driven brand, it is becoming a part of viewers’ lives. If only one activity would have given such a high number of participation we would have been apprehensive but activity after activity like Camera day, Dance Day, and Emoji Day has seen participation numbers increasing. It indicates that audiences are looking at more action from the channel which helps them to participate on the channel. They will remain our key focus to increase brand awareness. The star initiatives will be supported by network promotions.

On viewership trends in the Bhojpuri category this year

Earlier there used to be skewed bands or individual bands like females, kids, but those skews are more diluted in the non-prime time because every member of the family is at home. Apart from this, viewing hours or viewing consumption has increased, maybe because of the boredom in being homebound, and TV entertainment is the only window to break that.

We are capitalising on that by putting more movies on active bands by doing more premieres, film festivals which are tied around consumers present in that band and topicality. For instance, if morning and afternoon have become family viewership bands then we have film festivals celebrating the family day, Saawan season, Teej, romance, and other festivities. During special occasions like New Year or Christmas, we bring events on-board. Very soon we will add original shows to the platform because we always considered Zee Biskope as a movie plus channel. Currently, we have started pre-production work for an untitled show which will be launched in January.

On advertisers’ response to the channel

Advertiser and market response has been very strong since the beginning. From the beginning, we came in with a very robust package, we even came up with a brand song. We got celebrities from the region for the first time, then we did a lot of consumer seed activities so that saw a lot of promise and confidence amongst advertisers and got campaign partners. Since then, there have been brands which have been consistent with us and we have curated marketing activities around their brand promise. During the pandemic, there had been a slowdown but now the market is opening up and advertisers are coming back. We have got a very robust ROI and our business objectives are met already, and we are looking at closing the financial year close to the target that we have kept for our businesses.

Recently, we celebrated Litti Chokha Diwas, so Adani Fortune Oil came on board for that and we curated content for them. Nestle is our constant partner and we have done integrations for them.

During the launch we had Lux and Nihar as channel partners and thereon we had Airtel, Parle and Adani Fortune Mustard Oil. Largely, the participation is driven by FMCG brands, a lot of other categories that are seeing the upsurge are edtech, health and sanitisation brands.

On the impact of consumer-centric campaigns

The biggest campaign we did was during our launch, in terms of viewership we achieved more than we targeted for the opening numbers. Each festival registered a 30 per cent jump in viewership. We started with the biggest screening in Bihar. The launch campaign did make an impact. Our internal track of the awareness level during the launch phase and the intention to engage levels showed more than 90 per cent of positive response.

On their marketing mix

Traditional media still plays a vital role, however, we have been very consistent with radio or audio mediums. We have also used play tunes platforms to reach out to audiences, though TV remains the primary platform followed by digital. We have tried print, it also works but after the pandemic, the situation changed a bit. Since people are not going outdoors much we are not looking at OOH mediums. For our anniversary we have organised a DJ night with DJ Vee and then we are also holding interactions with celebrities.

On content strategy for 2021

We want to be differentiated, we are looking at genres that are not explored on TV to date. Overall, we want to change the movie experience. We are exploring newer days to celebrate and once the situation is normalised we want to do a lot of ground-level activities also. We believe that movie channels should not be a passive entity in your life. It is something that you can celebrate. So, all the acquisitions that we are doing, the kind of premieres that we’ll bring in the next year, will be very different from what we have done so far.

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