In the ongoing tussle for viewership, regional markets are the new battlefield for broadcast networks. Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) has overtaken Star India to become the numero uno network in the regional GEC space, as per a report by Kotak Institutional Equities citing BARC India data. The report goes on to highlight that some of the reasons for this could be the continued strength of Zee Tamil despite competitor Star Vijay’s popular show Bigg Boss Tamil 2, in addition to Zee Kannada gaining 200 bps, narrowing the gap with market leader Colors Kannada.
Furthermore, Zee Network’s weighted viewership share in July, 2018 stood at 27.5%.
On the back of Zee Tamil, Zee Kannada and Zee Bangla, coupled with the soon to be launched Malayalam GEC, Zee’s share in the regional GEC space is expected to be further amped up.
In addition, the broadcaster is also augmenting its overall regional movie portfolio. It already has a Telugu movie channel while it is also expected to launch Kannada and Tamil movie channels.
ZEEL attributes the success to in-house content creation and a focus on consumer insights.
“Over the years, we have built a strong in-house content creation expertise and developed an ecosystem that seamlessly delivers engaging content at a competitive cost,” Amit Shah, cluster head, regional Hindi speaking markets, ZEEL, said, adding “We have also used our own channels to create impact for our new launches.”
According to Siju Prabhakaran, cluster head — South, Zee Entertainment Enterprises, it is not just content but also the broadcaster’s strategy of segregating content for different markets that has worked in its favour. “We learnt a long time back that each market is to be treated differently as each of them is unique,” he says.
“While impact properties, reality formats and movies have always been working well in regional GECs, what is important is content that resonate with users. Zee seems to be having good content and is replicating its content story across regional GECs,” says Anita Nayyar, CEO, India & South Asia, Havas Media Group. “With the launch of new channels, the broadcaster is closing the loop in regional. But you have to have sustainable programming lineup too,” she adds.
Clearly, Zee Tamil’s recent facelift and brand refresh seems to have paid off. In addition, it is also said to be extending its fiction shows to weekends. According to Jehil Thakkar, partner at Deloitte India, Telugu and Tamil are the most robust regional markets for TV consumption. “As the market for regional GECs grows, budgets available to invest in programming also grow which leads to good content,” he says.
Furthermore, original programming is a big factor in regional markets. “ZEEL’s regional entertainment portfolio delivered a strong performance across markets in Q1 2018. Our channels were the leaders in the Marathi, Bangla and Oriya markets by gaining significant traction while Big Ganga sustained its strong viewership in the Bhojpuri market,” says Shah.
As TV continues to penetrate new households in rural India, more audiences are getting added to the regional language base of TV viewers and experts say this trend is going to accelerate further. Over the last five years, TV audiences have grown significantly at a CAGR of around 7%. The regional space thus becomes extremely important, as these markets become the next growth drivers for television. “Even advertisers are looking to access this set of consumers, so any network that strengthens its portfolio in regional is likely to gain,” observes Shekhar Banerjee, managing partner, Wavemaker India.