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We have gone hyperlocal with special stories on the website: Anindya Khare

Zee Media Corporation Ltd has recently launched 4 new digital news channels for the South India market just before launching India’s largest opinion poll with a 360-degree marketing push. 

Adgully spoke to Anindya Khare, Marketing Head, Zee Media Corporation Ltd, to know more about the launch of the new channels, Zee’s strategy to promote them, the increased focus on digital as well as hyperlocal content, growth strategy for the year ahead and more.

How was the year 2021 for Zee Media? What are the learnings that you wish to continue with or avoid in 2022? 

The past year was challenging for most of the publications and media houses, considering the gravity of the situations that were presented by the pandemic. At Zee Media, while we were faced with the same grave situations, we as a group have been able to sustain and maintain the momentum of growth, both in revenue and quality. We were able to get content seamlessly delivered across traditional and digital platforms. Our teams put in consistent effort to launch multiple channels midst the pandemic. Regional channels have been continuously growing and the surrogate ratings suggest that we are well on our way to cementing our position as the leaders in the regional content channels. 

We have been the largest content provider in the news space, where we have witnessed 46% of news viewers preferring WION over other English news channels in India. As a part of the election coverage, Zee News conducted an opinion poll with the largest-ever sample size in the history of election coverage in India. The large sample size not only gave a comprehensive opinion, but also represented the voice of all sections of the populace.

One of the biggest learnings for us as a group was to go hyperlocal in content, events, and opinion poll, which the regional channels have successfully delved into.

What led Zee Media to launch 4 new regional language digital news channels in 4 South Indian languages?

Over the last few years, we have seen a jump in the digital consumption of content in India regardless of the language. We saw this as a great opportunity to explore the growth of regional news media. As per data available, Internet penetration of South India is much higher compared to the rest of India. The time spent watching videos per day has also increased by 60%-70% over 2018-20, where 85% content viewed is non-English and 30% in languages other than English or Hindi. With 68% of the population consuming news through digital platforms, we saw this as a great opportunity to expand where there is scope. We are dedicated to covering news and presenting it in every language and are aware that consumers are consuming content on multiple platforms. Keeping that in consideration, we are aligned with the trend and are increasingly looking at launching news channels in regional languages. 

What is your strategy to promote these channels? 

We are largely focusing on promoting these channels through digital platforms and targeting news viewers in four southern states of India to generate visibility for our channels. We also launched integrated deals on television and digital channels, which will also assist in the leapfrogging of website views and YouTube views for the channels.

How has the focus of Zee Media been on digital platforms as a means of growth?

There is a huge potential in the growth of digital mediums and we are at a very nascent stage in tapping this potential. Given the potential, digital media has been a focus for Zee Media and all our marketing campaigns are centred on these platforms. Not just our marketing campaigns, but our new channel launches are also digital focused. We are aggressive with the digital view for the entire network. Zee Digital has seen a 36% YoY growth over the last year.

Another learning from the pandemic period was the focus on hyperlocal content on these platforms. For example, in Rajasthan we have gone hyperlocal with special stories and a section on the website, which has helped us a great deal in drawing viewership and traction to our platforms.

How are you sustaining the brand’s presence on digital platforms despite the huge competition? What is digital’s contribution to the topline?

Like I said, there is a great potential in the digital space and everyone wants a slice of the pie. While we are the leaders in the TV space, we are not depending on the linear TV content only. In the recent years, we have developed digital focussed content for the audience and offered the same in a digital friendly manner. Our research has consistently shown us that the viewing behaviour of a TV content viewer and a digital content consumer is very different. Bearing this in mind we have created content which will be sticky enough to cater to the volatile digital news market.

What are your plans of expansion for the year 2022? 

As part of our plans for 2022, we have already launched 4 news channels in South Indian languages. Our goal now is to strengthen digital footprint and reach for new launches and existing channels. We will continue to create new IPs, launch of new language channels and keep the momentum of growth.

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