Vibha Chopra on 2020 roadmap for Zee Studios' film biz

Chopra unveils plan to enter new markets in Africa and Asia Pacific in 2020

MUMBAI: In 2019, Zee Studios’ film distribution business has grown by 30-40 per cent and film syndication business has seen a growth of 10 to 15 per cent. Last year, Zee Studios entered new markets like Hong Kong and Japan with the release of Dream Girl and Manikarnika. In 2020 it plans to enter new areas in Africa, Asia Pacific, Korea and Taiwan and focus on regional content as well. In an interaction with, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) head-global syndication & international film distribution Vibha Chopra unveiled her plans for 2020 in film distribution and syndication business.

She said, “In 2020-2021 we will continue to invest in content. We always cherry pick the right type of content that we think that will relate with our audience in the overseas territory. Along with that even regional content is coming up and finding up the audience. At one point it was just Bollywood and the regional content didn’t make it really big, but this year we have seen Malayalam, Tamil and Punjabi films. They also broke records in their own space.”

“In addition to that we are also speaking to many other territories like Philippines and Thailand, to acquire those movies for the key market where we are very strong in.”

With 4800 movie titles and 260 thousand hours of Indian content in its library, Studios witnesses huge demand from APAC region because socio-economic and cultural similarities resonate.

2019 has seen a lot of films which were not anticipated to be  big films but they did great business. “This was a very interesting year. We saw films that were very heavily content driven. Previous year it was dominated by either content driven films or masala films. This year had an appetite for both. As we saw a mix of good content films and masala films doing very good business. I think overall it's been an interesting year that way and obviously for Zee Studios it's a great year on a movie frontier,” said Chopra.

She further adds, “We have done obviously well in the traditional territory and we are able to grow that. Year on year traditional territories are accepting Indian content more and more. In addition to that there are other non-traditional territories that are seeing the resonance of our content that we have been able to release our films in Japan, Hong Kong and China. We had the largest number of releases in China this year with Mom, Beyond The Clouds and Gold.”

Chopra also expressed her views on NTO. She said, “It is an interesting time and its a dual opportunity as a challenge. Opportunity because more people sample your content which they will find relevant for their market."

“I think OTT enables content  to reach far and beyond certain territories. Of course then the challenge becomes that one is so widely available on OTT then players do not give relevance on traditional platforms. The consumption of traditional platform is going down too. So that poses a bit of a challenge for everyone. For any content syndication. That's a challenge because once upon a time television used to be a big platform but now with OTT it's a shared space right now,” she comments.

Chopra also highlighted her journey with Zee Studios, “I started film distribution and we built everything from scratch. It was a different kind of experience setting up Zee Studios International and seeing where it has reached. This syndication was a different experience. It was seen as an acquired child and all in difficult times where syndicated content in difficult to hold because of the influx of various OTT platforms and how content is reaching the audience,” she informed.

“With that change of fact, I have always been very passionate about how to enter a newer market. I think both these portfolios did together that there are opportunities to stay. We are talking to various people on format or selling our IP or remakes or things like that. I think there are these challenges which come with the opportunity, that's a very exciting part of the business. 60-70 per cent of the market focuses on Indian audience outside India, this syndication has largely taken Indian content for non Indians. You are dealing with two very different set of audiences and how they consume your content and what do they have to say about your content. So I think it is a kind of complete experience of international market. It's been a great learning experience to understand how the content is received by Indians and non Indians at large,” she said.

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