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Zee English saw a surge in viewership and growth in 2021: Rishi Parekh

“There has been a growth in English content viewership led by both reach and engagements across the nation. Hence, both content and revenue have been registering a rise. In terms of subscription, the English cluster channels have had a steady subscriber base as part of the premium packs,” says Rishi Parekh, Chief Channel Officer - English, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd

The year 2022 has been really great for the English clusters, he says. In an interview with Adgully, Pareksh says that over the years, the cluster has truly positioned itself as the one-stop destination for international content and the global template has worked for the Indian market. He is bullish about 2022. “We project an uptrend in English viewership in the coming year and are hopeful that we can ride that wave. We have lined up a slew of content offerings in the coming year to aid this process,” he says. 

ALSO READ: Authenticity has gained more traction in 2021: Amit Adarkar, Ipsos India

Excerpts from the interview: 

How has 2021 been for the broadcast industry in general? What were the key trends that characterised the Indian broadcasting ecosystem in 2021 and what will be key dynamics for the next year? 

The year 2021 has been on an upwards growth trajectory for the broadcast industry as the market took off on a road to recovery from uncertain pandemic situations. There has been a growth in English content viewership led by both reach and engagements across the nation. Hence, both content and revenue have been registering a rise. In terms of subscription, the English cluster channels have had a steady subscriber base as part of the premium packs. In fact, post the lockdown phase we have witnessed a surge in viewership along with growth in mentions, search, and engagement on social media. Over the years, the cluster has truly positioned itself as the one-stop destination for international content and the global template has worked for the Indian market. 

Foreign language content also emerged as one of the key trends in 2021 with internationally acclaimed movies and shows making it to the small screen. As a brand, we were quick to adapt to this with ‘Privé World Box Office’. This property of &PrivéHD includes a collection of movies that are each blockbuster in their country of origin thus ensuring high-voltage entertainment for all. 

What are your outlook and growth projections for 2022?

We are bullish about the coming year and we project ourselves to grow into the top three operators in the genre. Without getting into specific numbers, we project an uptrend in English viewership in the coming year and are hopeful that we can ride that wave, and maybe even play a part in its upsurge. We have lined up a slew of content offerings in the coming year to aid this process. 

What were the innovative strategies and marketing campaigns for advertising onboarding?

Due to the growth in the number of people learning English and other international languages, awareness about international content is rapidly rising. Hence, the viewership of foreign content has been on a constant rise. 

Also, the media landscape has been evolving continuously with social media marketing taking over considerably. Therefore, at Zee, our strategies are a combination of traditional media practices along with social media and direct consumer outreach. For instance, to market K-Dramas in the festive seasons, we recently collaborated with ‘Supaarwoman’ fame Supriya Joshi for a Diwali special twist with K-Drama social media reels. Our ad film with Deepak Tijori, Renuka Shahane, and Rohit Saraf was also able to garner the audience’s attention, thus exemplifying how even simple themes when combined with the right message and feel can work wonders. We also hold a steady partnership with influencer Jose Covaca aka Hoezaay for various campaigns. 

What were the shifts in brands’ behaviour and business models during the year? What will be the trends in the Indian broadcasting sector in 2022?

The initial phase of lockdown established viewers’ affinity towards television as they chose to watch curated content suiting their needs with family and friends. Also, popular shows and movies made a comeback on the screens and evoked a sense of ‘nostalgia’ as they took people a walk down memory lane. Riding on the same sentiment, we witnessed a significant growth in TV viewership, which was a combination of walk-ins as well increased time by our existing consumers. Additionally, consumption of Hollywood movies on TV is on the rise and the genre continues to operate at 40% higher viewership compared to pre-lockdown levels. 

Viewership for English and other foreign language content is also on the rise. For instance, ‘Hallyuwood’ has been able to get its share of ardent fans and Zee was the first to realise the need of the moment and introduce a foreign language movies block with Privé World Box Office along with broadcasting some of the most loved K-Dramas on Zee Café, including ‘Boys Over Flowers’, ‘Descendants Of The Sun’ and ‘Bread, Love and Dreams’. 

The year 2022 will continue to be a good one post the testing phase of the pandemic. While this pandemic time has proved that television still finds its relevance in people’s homes, its growth is further anticipated. Foreign-language content is also expected to find more and more viewer base across the country, slowly penetrating to the Tier 2 and 3 markets and not being restricted to the metros. 

What are your plans (in content strategy, audience engagement, new marketing campaigns, etc.) for 2022?

Evolution is the key to sustain in this highly competitive environment and stay ahead of the game. It is important to stay updated in accordance with the changing tastes and preferences of the viewers. As a brand, we take this step very seriously and follow a very simple yet effective strategy. Based on the insights garnered from audiences’ viewing patterns, we analyse the demand for movies and shows and accordingly innovate our content. Some properties which received a good response on the Zee Cafe are ‘I Dream of Jeannie’, Masterchef Australia, ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’, ‘Star Trek’, etc. The original show ‘Dance With Me’ has also been successful in getting good traction. The movies that are premiered and telecasted on &flix and &PrivéHD are from amongst the globally lauded content slate. Award-winning and record-breaking movies from Box Office fare well owing to the popularity that they have already gained at a global level. 

We have always believed that content has the power to transcend borders and it is language-agnostic. For our future line-up, we will be on the lookout for the best content that appeals to the audience. 

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