Zee Thirai eyeing Top 3 spot among Tamil movie channels: Siju Prabhakaran

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd recently fortified its regional offering with the launch of their Tamil 24-hour movie channel – Zee Thirai. Priced at Rs 5 per month a-la-carte, the channel will offer viewers a mix of original Tamil content and dubbed content. 

Contribution of movies to overall viewership in South states has increased to 23 per cent. Tamil Nadu has the second highest TV owning population at 78 million and contributes second highest movie viewership in the South, clocking 1,370 billion minutes of watch time annually. 200+ movies are released in Tamil Nadu every year meaning that there exists a strong supply of content. 

“We’ve observed in GEC that more channels equals more viewership and that’s how we have approached it,” said Siju Prabhakaran, South Cluster Head, ZEEL. “Today, our channels – Zee Kannada, Zee Telugu, Zee Cinemalu, Zee Tamil and most recently, Zee Keralam, contribute to over 28.5 per cent of our network share, thus showcasing our strong connect with the South markets. We are confident with the launch of Zee Pichar and Zee Thirai, the overall people using television (PUT) would also increase,” he added. 

Tamil cinema is focusing more on narrative driven films every year and not just their usual fare of star driven films offering viewers more variety than ever before. TV viewership has been given a fillip with the shortening of the theatrical release window. The sheer amount of movie content being created compounded by TV penetration and comfort of home means that a lot more consumers have been tuning into movie channels. 

However, there are relatively few movie channels dedicated to offering movie content, which is led by Sun TV Network and Star Vijay. Speaking about the competition, Prabhakaran said, “Existing players have approached movie content as a commodity airing so many movies every month. We believe movie content has an emotional connect with audiences and have approached it differently.” 

During the launch, Zee Thirai will premiere 52 movies over 52 weeks on Fridays in the primetime slot. Programming has been curated in bands throughout the day, catering to different audience segments which are active at that time. While Zee Thirai has no plans to create content around content like chat shows, music shows and quiz shows on the platform, they will explore bringing their marquee awards like Zee Cine Awards to the channel. 

Breaking down the audience engagement, Prabhakaran said, “There is a higher time spent in the urban markets, but in rural the propensity to consume movies as a genre is very strong. In general, for GEC and movies, the loyal audiences usually watch on the weekdays and on weekends you have a higher reach due to co-viewing with the entire family. We usually do a lot of new movies and non-fiction shows on weekends, especially Sundays. It is a big day from a movie consumption point of view.” 

As per BARC data for Week 1 of 2020, Zee Tamil is the 3rd most viewed GEC channel in Tamil language with 349,124 (000) impressions. This GEC channel will be leveraged by the broadcaster to market their Tamil movie channel. Print will be used tactically to make audiences aware of the channel and digital marketing via Zee Thirai’s social media handles to keep viewers updated on a day to day basis. The network has planned activations on OOH and radio to reach a wider audience especially in Tier 2 and 2 markets. Overall, the broadcaster will take a 360-degree approach to marketing. 

The channel will be present across leading DTH operators, including Tata Sky (Channel No. 1559), Airtel DTH (Channel No. 775), Dish TV (Channel No. 547) and D2H (Channel No. 547) Cable subscribers can subscribe to the Zee Prime Movie Pack Tamil at Rs 12, consisting of Zee Tamil, Zee Thirai, along with other ZEEL channels. 

Speaking about advertiser interest, Prabhakaran said, “While there is a lot of overlap between GEC and movie advertisers, we see a lot more male focused and youth brands keen on advertising on movie channels. Tamil Nadu is a retail hub and some of those advertisers want to build their brand via a frequency channel rather than reach channel.” 

“We are looking at building this channel with both subscription and advertising. Currently, there are only two movie channels who are serious players, from the Sun TV Network and Star bouquet, we are definitely looking at becoming one of the top three channels by the end of the first year,” he affirmed.


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