Q] How did this idea for a content festival germinate?
Zee5 is getting visible not only in India but also globally. And as a function of which we’ve had a barrage of requests from young content creators for an opportunity to showcase their content on our platform. We’ve had this as a trend for some time, and it got accelerated during COVID, because of the other restrictions on theatres and with OTT coming into its own. Video viewership and streaming has really spiked globally, and that’s when the content team came up with this idea. So, we decided why not pioneer a festival where we give young content creators across the globe an opportunity to showcase their content.
Q] What is the media mix for this festival? And how do you plan to promote it?
The media mix that we’re using now is not just peculiar to this event. It is the way we have chosen to go in COVID times. In normal times, we would have had mix of brand, Outdoor, Digital and Social. Right now in COVID times, we are focused on making it mostly just Digital and Social. And of course, our PR machinery has also ensured that there is enough being written about this across the globe.
Q] What kind of advertiser interest have you seen during this year especially during the pandemic? Have you seen growth in advertising revenues during the festive season?
The short answer is yes to both. If you look at the early days of the pandemic, video streaming shot through the roof. And then the next struggle was: people are consuming content in droves but to match that up, we have to continue to create content, but creation of content was impacted because we couldn’t do things on ground. So initially there was a spike but then a bit of stagnation followed since we could not replenish the content. Once restrictions were lifted, our content teams were back in motion and creating content. And then things went through the roof. So while advertising revenues overall lulled, given the right opportunity, advertisers were completely willing to put their money and their association with content, and we have grabbed those opportunities.
Q] Are there any new shows in the pipeline?
The plans are underway. We said it’s part of our global blueprint for what we intend to do in the next few years. So, we started with the SAARC markets, then went across the rest of APAC, then went across the Middle East, UK, and the rest of Europe, Canada, and we even hope to have USA in the fray. What we’ve really done since 2018 to now is establish Zee5 very strongly in the minds of the South Asians as a destination for South Asian content. On the back of this, what we really hope to do is to extend that audience base from just the South Asians to actually embrace the entire globe. We have a very robust plan for it.
Q] The government recently introduced rather broad OTT platforms under the ambit of MIB. What are the possible implications for OTT players? Are you concerned about the move?
Our philosophy has always been that Zee as an entity has strongly believed in family values with respect to their linear content. With respect to OTT, we are strongly aware that we are now trying to embrace a younger audience and for that we must move with the times, and give them real stories, elegantly done, beautifully told, well crafted, but still keeping some strong guidelines in mind. So what we have sort of propagated along with the other top OTT players is a mandate for self-regulation, where we’re saying like we’re not kids, give us a little freedom, and we will be sensitive and elegant. We are creative people, we want to tell real stories but we will do it with sensitivity and empathy and in keeping with what we believe to be true and should be told for these audiences.
Q] What are the key learnings for you as a brand in the year 2020?
The top learning for me this year has been the propensity to pay for content. It has been heartening to know that people are slowly getting to a point where they realise content is worth paying for. A large trend across the globe is we see people moving more and more towards watching content in the language of their comfort. So while English rules, it’s still very niche in the global scheme of things. There is the sensibility of quality that I can see in the consumer because they are exposed to global OTTs. We do realise that people have a much higher discernment about quality of content, and the storytelling.
Q] What can viewers expect from Zee5 in the year 2021?
What they can expect from Zee5 is an exciting array of content. We have some mighty plans that are in the works. We are going to make a difference, not in incremental ways, but in huge leaps and bounds. We will be announcing it very soon. And you will understand then what I mean, but essentially, look forward to Zee5 bringing some fabulous content your way.