Our TV shows and huge movie library remains a huge draw across markets: Archana Anand, Zee5 Global

Archana Anand

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, Zee5 Global takes us through the conceptualization of its brand campaign ‘Dil Se Desi’ and global content strategy. 

2019 witnessed Zee5 undergo various strategic partnership and go global to bank up foreign content on the OTT platform. With the launch of  ‘Dil Se Desi’ and #ShareTheLove, it seeks to transcend boundaries. 

In conversation with Social Samosa, Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, Zee5 Global shares in-depth details about the campaign, global content strategy, AVOD vs SVOD and much more. 

‘Dil Se Desi’ was a breakthrough campaign for ZEE5 globally as well as back home. What were the insights that led to its origin & what has been the response? 

Interestingly, the key insight that inspired the ZEE5 India launch campaign (rolled out in February 2018), ‘Apni Bhasha Mein Feel Hai’ held true for global markets too; that Indians and South Asians today, irrespective of where they live or how globally connected they are, are fundamentally rooted in their culture and feel a strong sense of pride and belonging. Being ‘Desi’ today has moved from being just cool to becoming an intrinsic part of one’s identity, and this is what ‘Dil Se Desi’ is based on.

Given that digital is such a youth-centric platform, our campaign played on how traditions and cultural symbols have been adopted and adapted by the youth today – i.e. a henna tattoo that’s replaced the traditional mehndi; the payals that now get paired with sleek stilettos.  

‘Dil Se Desi’ is, therefore, a contemporary blend of tradition and modernity that perfectly combines our audience’s current state of being with the connect back to their home, culture, and tradition, thus building a strong resonance with the brand. This emotion and connect is what our campaign celebrates.

The campaign has been loved by Indians and South Asians across the globe and has really created a strong base for our launch. 

Please give us an idea about your content strategy (India and Global) at present and going forward, especially in terms of original content? As an OTT player do you face content dissemination issues? How are you overcoming them?

Our goal is to deliver and create content that caters to all segments. Whether it’s our TV shows and movies or our originals which spans across genres from crime, drama, to even biopics and across languages as well, we want to ensure that we are catering to audiences across segments globally.

We’re constantly pushing the envelope to create shows across languages that strike a strong chord with our audiences across the globe, and we have a fabulous line-up of 72 such shows over the coming year, with the most recent ones being – Hindi originals like Abhay, The Final Call, and PARCHAYEE, Tamil Originals like D7 and Kalavu, Malayalam originals like Mirror and Aarpoo as well as Marathi original Sex, Drugs and Theatre. All these and more will be available to our global audiences in multiple languages e.g. Rangbaaz and the Marathi show Date with Saie are now also available in Tamil, Telugu, Bangla, Kannada, Marathi, and Malayalam.

Also Read: ZEE5 transcends borders to #ShareTheLove with Pakistan and Bangladesh

Getting this content to users is, of course, critical so we’ve to ensure availability across all relevant platforms. 

We’ve also been very aggressive on the partnerships front to ensure we have a strong presence across key markets and build some strong visibility through joint marketing. We have a slew of partnerships in the pipeline across IPTVs, Telecoms, and OEMs to increase accessibility and visibility for ZEE5. We have already announced partnerships with Zeasn and Netrange for availability across Smart TVs across APAC and global markets. We’ve already closed some partnerships like Dialog in Sri Lanka and we have very recently announced a key global partnership with Apigate which will take us into 11 markets.

The Indian OTT segment has evolved drastically from when it first entered India. What according to you gives ZEE5 an edge in the Indian OTT ecosystem?

We are present across 190+ countries, making our content accessible to literally every person across the globe (barring the US). Then there’s our fabulous content bouquet. Our TV shows are much in demand across global markets. Given the huge love for Bollywood across the globe, our movies library is a huge draw. Then we’re creating Originals across genres, high-speed, edgy content that appeals to digital audiences in India and across the globe. 

We’re already No 1 in markets like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in a few short weeks, and we look to replicate that success as we move across global markets.

A number of OTT players have tied up with network carriers for content dissemination. What is your take on the same?

Telcos are important partners for us as they have a ready audience base and for joint marketing to this base. We’re equally important for them as ZEE5 gives them a complete content offering with both On-demand and Live TV, and content across genres and languages – a one-stop destination. It’s a complete win-win situation for both.

Coming April, you will also see us launching content in international languages like Thai, Bahasa, Malay etc. As we move into this next phase of expansion, partnering with leading telecom operators across markets will help us further to quickly scale up our distribution among not just South Asian but also mainstream audiences.

Piracy is touted as one of the major challenges faced in the Indian ecosystem. Has it impacted the platform overall?

Piracy remains an issue globally. In many markets, people have moved to piracy due to high price points or the lack of availability of content in their preferred language. We believe that if we give people a legitimate single-point source for the content they want to watch and one that’s packaged and priced competitively, they can be brought back. That’s a key part of our strategy as we roll out across markets.

Please shed light on the content consumption trends witnessed in India vis a vis its global counterparts.

Like in India, increasing demand for content across languages is a common theme we are seeing across the globe. Globally there is a huge audience for content in languages beyond Hindi & English and we’re seeing a huge demand for content in Tamil, Bengali, Marathi, and Telugu among others.

While we’re seeing consumption across the various genres of content we have on the platform, our TV shows and huge movie library remains a huge draw across markets. We’re also seeing consumption of older library shows like Jodhaa Akbar. We’re seeing a strong response for our Originals too.

As we move into our next phase of expansion, our ambition is to ensure that our content is easily accessible not only to the South Asian diaspora but also to mainstream audiences across markets. We want to be the go-to destination for content across languages for South Asians and beyond, and the addition of content in international languages takes us a huge step closer towards that goal.

AVOD vs SVOD – The future of OTT revenue making in India. Your comment?

As monetization models, both are relevant. AVOD remains especially hugely relevant in markets like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka etc. which are yet evolving in terms of overall digital maturity and online video consumption. However, as audiences become more discerning, they become more amenable to paying for quality premium content. India is largely an AVOD market; however, there is an increasing willingness to pay for content that’s exclusive, differentiated and high quality. Most platforms like ZEE5 follow a freemium pricing model to cater to all segments. ZEE5 is largely freemium across the globe. We have a huge range of content that’s free to watch for the consumer. However, content like our Originals, latest blockbusters etc. are behind a paywall.