Zee seeks to tap into regional opportunity with four new language channels

Zee Punjabi (GEC) and three movie channels - Zee Thirai, Zee Picchar, and Zee Bhojpuri to be start

MUMBAI: Expanding its regional footprint further, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) on Thursday announced four new regional channels — Zee Punjabi (GEC channel) and three movie channels Zee Biskope (Bhojpuri), Zee Thirai (Tamil) and Zee Picchar (Kannada).

Zee Punjabi and Zee Biskope are scheduled to go on air on 13 January and 14 January 2020 respectively whereas, Zee Thirai and Zee Picchar will launch between February and  March  2020.

Zee Punjabi is to be a mixture of shows, films, and movies. It will have five fiction and three non-fiction shows along with music, movies and more at launch. The channels tag line has been decided as ‘Kahaaniyaan Punjabi, Boli Punjabi, Zee Punjabi’.

The three regional movies channel — Zee Biskope, Zee Thirai, and Zee Picchar will be  in addition to the already established regional GEC channels that Zee has  in Bhojpuri, Tamil, and Kannada languages.

ZEEL’s domestic broadcast business chief executive officer, Punit Misra said, “We have always believed that deep understanding of cultures across the nation and serving people entertainment rooted in each culture win hearts. In the last four to five years, if you look at the regional viewership then all Hindi i.e., GEC and movies was let’s say 38 percent of the total television consumption. All languages (GEC+movies) were around 32 percent. So, there is movement ahead of overall market growth in all regional markets put together. Plus, if you look at the movie genre it has grown in the regional market 2x of the total viewership growth of the country.

He further added that cultural pulse is at the core of the differentiated strategy at ZEEL. “Our newest offerings are designed to add to our growth trajectory, further cementing our belief in winning hearts across many states.”

ZEEL’s chief growth officer, Ashish Sehgal spoke about the disruption in the broadcasting industry due to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) New Tariff Order (NTO). He said that the dust is settling and the industry has started showing signs of revival and growth and hence the new channels will only help the network going forward.

Zee's regional portfolio contributes to over 50 per cent of its overall share, with GECs contributing almost 90 per cent of the regional pie. It is the dominant market player in Marathi, Bangla and Kannada with over 50 per cent market share in Marathi and Bangla markets.

The content of all these four channels will be shared and available to viewers on Zee’s OTT platform ZEE5, so that they continue binge-watch their favourite TV shows missed episode and films any time.

ZEEL’s chief marketing officer, Pratyusha Agarwal said: “From a highly TV penetrated but hugely under-consumed latent Punjabi GEC opportunity to insatiable, thriving demand for movies in the Bhojpuri, Tamil, and Kannada markets, the regional need gaps present the perfect opening to further deepen the bonds we have with viewers all over India in various languages. We crafted and curated these four new offerings powered by deep viewer understanding, loads of passion and hoping that our viewers enjoy them as much as we did creating them!"

ZEEL has completed 27 illustrious years, now entertaining over 800 mn people across India, 650 mn of which comes through non-Hindi offerings, a press statement said.

Zee Punjabi

With over 20 hours of original weekly content, Zee Punjabi is the first Punjabi GEC that will celebrate Punjab with stories of Punjabiyat. Zee Punjabi offers its viewers a mixture of blockbuster cinema, ground contest shows, and chart-busting music.

ZEEL’s cluster head – north, west premium channels, Amit Shah said, “Despite the highest TV penetration (88 per cent) in the country, Punjab has a significantly low time spent and that is a factor of not having dedicated Punjabi content across that does justice to the region and culture.”

He added, “Zee Punjabi is being launched by understanding the viewer’s need gap; for a culture that is so powerful, Punjab definitely needs its own authentic Punjabi channel.”

“We have a strong line-up of stories with themes familiar to Punjab, characters that people will fall in love with and faces like Gurdas Mann, Jazzy B, Sonu Kakkar among others, who are respected in Punjab,” adds Zee Punjabi’s business head, Rahul Rao.

Zee Thirai

Zee Thirai is a new Tamil movie channel that will present the passion of Tamilians for their cinema and will fuel their heroic spirit through powerful movies, a press statement added.

The channel will have a programming library of above 400 celebrated titles from Tamil cinema that includes widespread genres from blockbuster hits to critically acclaimed movies such as Mersal, 2.0, Kanna, Kolamavu Kokila among others.

The channel is to have uninterrupted entertainment with break-less movies in the afternoon slot. The first look of the channel will be unveiled during Zee Cine Awards Tamil in January 2020.

According to ZEEL’s south cluster head, Siju Prabhakaran, “The launch of Zee Thirai is a showcase of Tamil cinema which has deep-rooted cultural and emotional context. We are seeking to channelise the heroic spirit it infuses in people into a strong brand and content stance.”

Zee Picchar

Zee Picchar is a new Kannada movie channel that will make every day a superhot day for the Kannadiga families, a press statement said. The channel will have a library of over 35 celebrated titles spanning across genres and generations from timeless classics to new age trendsetters.

With an aim of a one-break movie at specific slots for entertainment with minimal disruptions, ZEEL will launch the channel with 12 Picchar premieres to be aired on 12 consecutive days.

Zee Kannada’s business head, Raghavendra Hunsur said:  “After winning hearts of Kannadigas with Zee Kannada, we are all set to appeal to the viewers’ appetite and further strengthen our presence in the state.”

Zee Biskope

Bhojpuri movie channel Zee Biskope will be in addition to the successful GEC Zee Gang and will have a library of over 300 super hit movies with the biggest blockbuster movies of the last five years.

“Larger-than-life’s south Indian movies dubbed content will be broadcast on Zee Biskope,” a ZEEL official said. He added that people in the north relate to the story of the movies made in the southern part of India, especially Telugu and Tamil cinema.

ZEEL cluster head, east, Samrat Ghosh added: “The Bhojpuri content industry is increasing manifold in recent years. While Hindi GEC has grown at 40 per cent in the past three years in terms of consumption, the Bhojpuri GEC and movie verticals have grown by 85 per cent.”

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