Zee Thirai to fulfil demand for content and star-driven movies

The channel will focus on brand building and consumer pull in first 12 months

Siju Prabhakaran

MUMBAI: Zee has covered most of the regional space with its GEC and movie channels. With the launch of Zee Thirai it strengthened its footprint in the southern market. Unveiling the plans and programming strategies for the channel to have strong consumer pull in Tamil market, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL) South Cluster Head Siju Prabhakaran says, “Our commitment is to keep ourselves in-line with the demand for content driven or star driven movies in that market.”

He further says, “The ability to differentiate viewers by offering brand propositions and our engagement with audiences, are what we believe will make us stand apart from other players and help us garner viewership share.”

Zee Thirai has 400 plus library strength and it will aggressively acquire movies from time to time both star-driven and content-driven. The library would be shared between Zee Tamil and Zee Thirai but there will be big movies which might air on Zee Tamil first and then come to Zee Thirai or there could be certain movies which might premiere only on Zee Thirai.

“We believe in the regional market and specifically in southern market which is very strong. Otherwise we would not be investing in it. These are growing markets and there is tremendous scope for us to grow in this market too,” says Prabhakaran.

He also informs, “Through our brand we are trying to communicate that we will celebrate Tamil cinema in the best possible way and this celebration will extent to the channel's offering. Every week there will be new premiere and this is a first of its kind that any regional channel is offering.”

Viewership trends in southern market is different from other markets. The audiences in this market consumes more content in the morning and afternoon. To grab maximum eyeballs from those slots, Zee Thirai has strategised by offering a breakless movie slot in the afternoon and in the morning slot it will show classical movies from yesteryear.

“All these product offerings make Zee Thirai very interesting. It is available on all leading DTH operator/ players and lot of cable operators are carrying it. In fact, those who have not carried it yet are getting constant enquiries,” says Prabhakaran.

The channel is looking at both advertising and subscription-driven revenue models. “We have just launched the channel and I am sure once the audience build up happens, advertisers will follow but it’s very important that we get the product right first. If the consumer pull is created, advertisers are always willing to support brands which build consumer base.”

Tamil is one of the largest regional markets in our country and movie as a space is the second largest genre after general entertainment. Movie channels specifically contribute around 12 per cent viewership. With the increase in the number of movies released in the theatre, it is a value proposition for the broadcasters to have movie channels. Movie viewership has also grown on the television.

He opines, “In Tamil Nadu, we have been growing from strength to strength in the last 3 to 4 years. We are able to establish ourselves as a strong number two channel in market. In a market where there are difficulties but we have managed to get very strong viewership, it gives us confidence to launch other channels.”

Prabhakaran also hopes by the end of the 12 months, Zee Thirai becomes a strong brand. “We definitely want to be amongst the movie watching audience. We want to be able to capture the minds of our audience,” he concludes.

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