Zee Yuva is a monopoly and owns its space: Sharada Sunder

Zee Entertainment Enterprises recently unveiled the first look of its new GEC, Zee Yuva. The channel, which will target the youth and the young at heart, will go live from August 22, 2016. The channel wants to disrupt the market through differentiated, new age content.

In keeping with the brand ethos of Zee Yuva, the channel will air shows that are contemporary, young-at-heart and refreshing, and strike a chord with the youth. Some of the shows include ‘Freshers’, which is based on coming of age of teens in college; ‘ShravanBal Rockstar’, which is based on the aspirations of the youth and their parents; ‘Bun Maska’, which looks to be the flagship programme of Zee Yuva, is the story of a girls’ roller coaster emotions; ‘Love Lagan Locha’ is about the finely nuanced exposure of the boy’s world today (next to girl’s); and ‘ITT’, which depicts the journey of a guy from superficial global world  to a ‘beautiful locale’, among others.

The channel has been gaining huge traction on digital media as well, with Zee claiming that its Zee Yuva’s Facebook page has already registered the highest engagement compared to other competitor channels.

In conversation with AdGully, Sharada Sunder, Executive Vice President, Cluster Head – Regional Channels at Zee, speaks more about Zee Yuva, strengthening the regional offering, and more. Excerpts:

What is your view on the outlook for regional channels in India and their viewership?
I think regional as a market has always been exciting, in terms of composition and in terms of affinity with the audience. It is very relatable. Hence, regional as a market has been growing over the years and it will continue to do so.

What is the share of regional channels in the total TV advertising pie in India?
Speaking about the Marathi industry advertising pie, it would be closer to around Rs 500 crore.

In the regional space, which zones are seeing the maximum growth?
Growth is happening across all markets. The Bangla is growing, South is growing, Orissa is growing, Maharashtra is growing too. So, I think more and more people are getting exposed to regional television and liking the content there. This is opening up newer opportunities and people are getting to watch a lot more channels, and with that, the consumption and engagement of audience is increasing as well. So I think you will see growth happening overall, maybe slightly less in some markets and slightly more in some markets. From Zee’s perspective, Zee Marathi’s growth has been the highest, followed by Zee Telugu and Zee Bangla. And I think the Marathi market is growing beautifully.

What kind of a need gap was there in the Marathi broadcast space for a channel like Zee Yuva?
Basically if you see the channels that we currently have, they are female oriented and cater to the age group of is closer to 25+ years up to 50-55 years. There is nothing available for the Young India. We have been so strong in this market and have been able to serve all the audience’s needs well. Zee has always been a pioneer, and we spotted this opportunity to grow the entertainment that we provide to Young India, young Maharashtra. And I think in a way as a huge network, it is also our responsibility to service entertainment in all the segments. We knew that the demand was there as we kept hearing from our consumers that there was nothing for the youngsters.

How are you planning to counter the competition in the Marathi GEC space?
In my mind this is a monopoly. Zee Yuva is a monopoly, it is a channel that owns its space.

Please shed some light on Yuva’s content and programming strategies?
Our content for Zee Yuva reiterates the focus on being a youthful GEC. It is very fresh and clearly relatable to the young mindset audience. The programming mix reflects this channel focus.

Could you share your revenue and business strategy for Zee Yuva? When do you expect to break even?
I don’t think we can predict a break even date at this point, but we are very positive and confident that we will establish the brand first and then the viewership will follow, numbers will follow and profit will follow. We are going to focus on that first.


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