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Kannada GECs pegged to generate Rs 600-700 cr ad revenues: Raghavendra Husnur

The regional content and viewership in general entertainment space has been on a rise and witnessing an impressive growth. With this, national players like Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL), who are committed to capturing a sizable market share and increasing ad revenues, are reinventing the wheel by offering more localised content that resonates and reflects the mindsets of the audience today within these markets. 

ZEEL entered the Southern region in May 2005 with Zee Telugu, followed by Zee Kannada in 2006, Zee Tamil in 2008, Zee Cinemalu in 2016, and Zee Keralam in 2018. Over the years, ZEEL as a network has witnessed a 19.1 per cent viewership share (CY18 YTD), and today boasts of being the fastest growing network in the Southern region, standing at a 31.8 per cent growth over the last fiscal. 

Karnataka has been one of the fastest growing GEC markets in the country after the HSM markets. In terms of viewership, Kannada GECs have grown by 57 per cent between Week 1 and Week 35 in 2018 in comparison to the same period in 2016. 

The growth of Zee Kannada over the years has been phenomenal. On an aggressive growth path since Week 20 of 2018, Zee Kannada’s share has increased from 24 per cent to 30 per cent. As per BARC ratings for Week 47, Zee Kannada occupied the second spot among Kannada GECs with a gross viewership of 397,867 (Karnataka (U+R) : NCCS All : 2+ Individuals). Zee Kannada has also fortified its offering with the launch of its HD channel. 

In November 2018, Zee Kannada refreshed its brand identity with a new brand proposition – ‘Bayasid’dha Bāgilu Tegiyōṇa’ (Open Doors to Possibilities) – to inspire viewers, especially women, to take initiatives and rise above circumstances to craft their own destiny. Echoing the new brand positioning of Zee Kannada, the channel has undergone a transformation with the key existing fiction and non-fiction shows. 

In an email interaction with Raghavendra Hunsur, Business Head, Zee Kannada, speaks about the growth of the channel, the recent brand refresh, the Kannada television space and more.  

What has brought about this brand refresh?
In the last 12 years, Zee Kannada has emerged as one of the dominant players in the Kannada GEC market, offering wholesome entertainment for the entire family. With the evolving market trends and consumer preference, it was only natural for us to develop a refreshed outlook that resonates with the audience of today across age groups. We undertook extensive research to understand the pulse of the audience, and based on this research, crafted our new brand philosophy, keeping every Kannadiga at the heart of our new positioning. Our research indicated the changing mindsets of the ambitious Kannadiga wanting to break free from the things that are holding them back in life and keeping them stuck; wanting to thrive and become the architect of their own life.  

Building on this consumer sentiment and the core purpose of opening doors to possibilities by overcoming the limits of their mind, we crafted our new brand proposition – ‘Bayasid’dha Bāgilu Tegiyōṇa’, which translates to ‘Open doors to possibilities’, to inspire our viewers, especially women, to rise above their circumstances and craft their own destiny. Synonymous with the Kannada pride, Zee Kannada will help women break the limits of their mind with progressive and onward-looking content featuring bold and strong-willed women characters who go beyond the ordinary to achieve the extraordinary. 

The new brand philosophy will be reflected across Zee Kannada’s both existing and upcoming shows through our characters, concepts, narratives and content bouquet catering to every age group in the family. 

As the first entrant in the Kannada market, how has the channel grown?
Over the years, several national channels have set foot in the Southern market and have launched regional content catering to this burgeoning television audience. Recognising this potential early on, ZEEL entered the Southern region way back in May 2005. Zee Kannada was launched in 2006 and has grown from strength to strength delivering content deeply rooted in the socio and cultural ethos and backed by strong consumer insights. Ever since, the growth of Zee Kannada over the years has been phenomenal:

  • Zee Kannada’s market share: Week Avg 14-20: 22% market share. From Week Avg 21-39: 27% (Total TV)
  • Relative share has gone up by 6%, that is, from 19% in FY16 to 25% in FY 19 (Till Wk 39). (Total Market)
  • Rapid growth from 295 GRPs in FY16 to 546 GRPs in FY 19 (Wk 39)

Some of Zee Kannada’s tentpole shows include – ‘Naagini’, ‘Kamali’, ‘Comedy Khiladigalu’, and ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs Season 14’, that have been the viewers’ all-time favourites. Striving to be pioneers in every form of story-telling, the recently launched ‘Shree Vishnu Dasavatara’ is the first-ever mythology fiction show that has been conceptualised and produced by the channel, keeping in mind the tastes and cultural references of South Indians. 

How did you tap different media platforms for the brand refresh campaign?
The campaign broke with an extensive multimedia plan across television, trade, print, radio, outdoor, mobile, cable, digital and on-ground events for over eight weeks, covering the length and breadth of Karnataka – all 30 districts, including eight major towns – ensuring a top-of-mind recall in the minds of the audience. 

The promotional strategy also included brand refresh teasers, a brand film, and four fiction promos that brought alive the brand promise. 

What about digital marketing?
Marketing budgets are usually assigned on a case to case basis. The focus on the digital forefront is very high, as many of our viewers seek further information about our shows or go online to watch the episode if they have missed it. We assign a significant portion of our marketing budget to our online spends. 

How does Zee Kannada’s urban viewership compare with rural viewership?
Karnataka GECs undoubtedly have been one of the fastest growing GECs in the country, second only to Hindi GECs. The region currently boasts of hosting all four national players and over 11 GECs, according to BARC data, making it one of the most competitive markets. Kannada alone is estimated to generate Rs 600 crore – Rs 700 crore advertising revenues of the total Rs 5,700-crore South market. Kannada GEC witnessed an increase of 10 per cent in Week 8-28, from 1,894 GRPs in the year 2017 to 2,077 GRPs in 2018. The market continues to be an important TV viewing market with an increase of 16 per cent in time spent from Week 8-28, with viewers spending an average of 1 hour 26 minutes in 2017 to 2 hours 15 minutes in the year 2018. On an average, consumers spend 4 hours 25 minutes watching TV per day in the Kannada language, as opposed to 3 hours and 37 minutes in Hindi. 

What does the road ahead look like?
Echoing the new brand positioning of Zee Kannada, the channel will undergo a transformation with the key existing fiction and non-fiction shows that include ‘Kamali’, ‘Brahmagantu’, ‘Jodi Hakki’, ‘Subbalakshmi Samsara’, ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Season 15’, ‘Shree Vishnu Dashavatara’, and the soon-to-be-launched ‘Paru’ and ‘Aatma Bandhana’.  

With the launch of the HD channel, Zee Kannada is certain to bring stories to life with increased creativity.


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