The new tariff order issued by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) may have opened a difficult path for niche television genres like English entertainment. But some broadcasters believe in the lasting appeal of these channels and try to take advantage of the growing comfort of Indian audiences with foreign languages and content to stay relevant. The English-speaking channel group owned by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) recently announced a collaboration with the Korean Cultural Center to bring Korean programs to viewers. In an interview with Mint, Amit Shah, Cluster Manager, North, West and Premium Channels, ZEEL, talks about the power of content to transcend borders. Edited excerpts:
How attractive is the Korean content that you introduced to the English cluster, given that many of these shows may already be available on OTT platforms?
The Korean film industry is on the road to success. “Hallyuwood” (an informal term used to describe the Korean-language entertainment and film industry) has gained a solid fan base around the world, and Indians have not been late in expressing their love for films. K, K dramas and more. . As a brand, Zee’s English-speaking channel group has always kept the changing tastes and preferences of audiences at the forefront and therefore partnered with the Korean Culture Center to present the best of Korean programming on all channels.
Television has a different audience base than OTT and these two platforms are there to coexist. For a long time, audiences have enjoyed family time surfing content on TV, and channels that understand their tastes and curate programming to best cater to their viewers entice them by allowing for effortless viewing. At Zee English cluster, we aim to deliver new catalogs that best match the preferences of viewers.
What other offers besides Korean slate have you planned for the holiday season or beyond?
Zee’s English cluster aims to bring the best international content to Indian audiences. We have always believed that content has the power to transcend boundaries and that it is independent of language. For our future programming, we will be looking for the best content that will appeal to the public. At Zee Café, the Afternoon Cinema Group offers light and entertaining films that our audiences love in the Café Film Club category. On & flix, properties like Flix First, Flix Superheroes, Ticket to Hollywood continue to attract audiences with a huge range of films from various genres and regions around the world. Our World Box Office property on & PrivateHD brings audiences the best of nuanced world cinema and foreign language film premieres. Private Premiere is another such segment for previewing critically acclaimed films from around the world.
How has consumers’ relationship with English channels evolved over the years and to what extent should your strategies evolve regardless of platform?
India as a market is experiencing a steady increase in the number of audiences looking for good content in English. With more and more people learning English as a language and developing a taste for differentiated content, the demand for the industry will only increase. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that there is a huge market for not only English but international content in the country, and this is a huge opportunity for global entertainment players like us.
Based on the information gathered from audience viewing patterns, we analyze demand for films and shows and innovate our content accordingly. Some properties that received a good response are I Dream of Jeannie, Masterchef Australia, The Drew Barrymore Show, and Star Trek. The original Dance With Me show also managed to get some good traction.
What marketing and promotional strategies have you adopted, including and beyond social media?
Our goal is to reach the right audience and we involve a lot of background research to determine who the target group is. In recent times, there has been a rapid and constant change in the traditional media landscape, and increasing levels of digital sophistication among consumers has led to the emergence of multiple media. The marketing moment is also developing, and context has become essential in any integrated marketing strategy. To market the K-dramas this holiday season, we recently partnered up with comedian and writer Supriya Joshi for the K-drama social media reels. The covid-19 epidemic has acted as a catalyst in the growth of digital media alongside television. Our commercial with Deepak Tijori, Renuka Shahane and Rohit Saraf also grabbed attention, illustrating how simple themes can be turned into results without clutter when using relevant information and segmenting the consumer well.
Focusing on the right reach and the right platform, in the UK cluster we have adopted social media engagement tools alongside TV as part of the channel’s marketing strategy. For example, we ran our First Day First Show at Home campaign with the José Covaco comic, in addition to a unique live interactive session on premiere day with José that generated great engagement on Instagram. Our digital activation with Dance With Me 2 by Zee Café is a true example of collaboration between television and social media to the delight of consumers. We have become more specific with our media choices based on consumer information in order to not only reach but truly engage with our audiences.
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