“Zee Cinemalu plans to strategically place movies to capitalise on the festive season”

Zee Cinemalu is a name that has grown to become synonymous with the best Telugu movies on small screen television. Launched by megastar Chiranjeevi, who unveiled the logo, the channel began its journey on September 4, 2016 with ‘Dil Pai Super Hit’. The channel completes the 5-year milestone as the brand philosophy continues to capture the thrilling journey with the ardent viewers. The channel philosophy, ‘Dil Pai Super Hit’, is aimed towards inspiring every Telugu speaking audience with a superhit stress buster that will help them enjoy the ride that life has to offer.

In conversation with Adgully, Sai Prakash, Business Head, Zee Cinemalu, speaks about the five-year journey of the channel, content line-up for the festive season, growth of the movies genre in the pandemic period, and more.

What was the performance of Zee Cinemalu during the lockdown in terms of ad spends and how do you plan to increase that?

The year has been a challenging one, however, Zee Cinemalu has ensured to provide non-stop entertainment to its viewers through a unique content strategy. Advertising revenue, fortunately, has not been impacted during the lockdown owing to the constant appetite for on-screen entertainment among our viewers. We aim to design an approach that will further resonate with our audiences and our brand philosophy, ‘Dil Pai Super Hit’, which will further help in building and strengthening relationships with advertisers.

Could you throw some light on how the pandemic impacted Zee Cinemalu and its viewers? What are the key shifts/ changes witnessed by your market?

The pandemic has allowed us to engage with our audience to a greater extent. Focus remains on providing more and more entertainment to the viewers. In fact, movie genre viewership has gone up significantly during the lockdown and each channel has its way to retain the viewership and we at Zee Cinemalu have witnessed 25% growth during the first phase of lockdown and 19% growth in the second phase. We continue to stand at the No. 2 in Urban.

Coming back to key shifts during the pandemic, the publishing and consumption of new movies has definitely seen growth across OTT platforms. Before the pandemic, movies would premiere on Television after being released in theatres. However, now the option of OTT first/ D2D has given better traction for digital consumption and subscription base. At the same time, big star cast movies have sustained television viewership despite the digital spike. In the Telugu market in particular the movies channels do not telecast big star movies as premiers considering the monetisation factor. The impact of the digital spike is not significant when it comes to movies’ viewership on television, However, it is now a known fact that movie acquisition costs have gone up significantly and digital acquisition spends have gone up equally.

How did the channel innovate and adapt to continue serving the entertainment needs of its target audience even during these times?

Our focus continues to be offering constant freshness to the viewer, which helps us remain on top of the mind. We witnessed tremendous outcomes as we experimented with showcasing 11 movies per day. We brought 17 movies, packaged as 17 stories with a new story each hour, to our viewers on a single day and the idea was received positively by the viewers.

Owing to the pandemic, we did not broadcast world television premieres in 2020-21. However, our approach to bringing unique stories curated for our viewers in Q1, besides regular titles, was a well-thought-out repeat strategy blended with occasional “small- and first-time” telecast titles. We leverage all relevant topical days as we understand our viewers’ value festivals and topical days just as much as we do. We offer content beyond movies with Zee Telugu Entertainment based events and Hollywood films on Zee Cinemalu as an extraordinary viewing experience.

What makes Zee Cinemalu different from its competitors?

Our journey of a focused approach with fresh offerings will continue even in the years to come. Our channel’s USP of World Television Premieres will continue to entertain viewers besides fresh and unseen genre content.

How did the pandemic impact the television film entertainment industry?

Many industries have been impacted by the unprecedented pandemic, including the entertainment industry. OTT platforms are greatly invested in acquiring digital movie rights and the costs are on par with satellite rights. However, despite the impact OTT platforms have constituted, bigger star cast and hit movies continue to garner higher viewership on Television today. We also believe movies on television screens will always possess the nostalgic family viewing experience.

What can the viewers expect from this industry in the last quarter of 2021?

The industry is forced to adapt to the changing circumstances as the movie genre has limited scope for endless innovative strategies. However, as a broadcaster, we will strive to offer relevant and entertaining content to the viewers without losing core brand affinity.

Zee Cinemalu will stay true to our objective of being the game-changer and providing the best and latest entertainers to viewers. We aim to strategically place movies to capitalise on the festive season.

What were your observations in terms of the viewing habits of the viewers, what change did you observe during the pandemic?

As mentioned, we have witnessed a significant increase in movie consumption from viewers, especially in NPT viewership.

What is your content line-up for the festive season and the last quarter of 2021?

As we approach the festive season, we are planning to entertain our viewers by offering content beyond movies. With ZEE Telugu events adding a festive touch, we intend to stay true to the brand promise of WTPs and are also looking at a few small titles’ premiers in the coming months. 9 days 9 blockbusters for Dussehra since its launch – which garners great reception. We are also bringing brand-new packing to present a festive look, feel and flavour in our offerings. We will continue to bring one latest Hollywood blockbuster every month on one Sunday afternoon. We will continue to experiment with exclusive offerings to feed the entertainment appetite of our viewers.


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