Ananya Saha
Nov 27, 2013

‘We see the regional market growing faster than the national market’

Q&A with Alok Agrawal, CEO, Zee Media Corporation, on the new look, content revamp, regional expansion and more

‘We see the regional market growing faster than the national market’

Earlier this month, Zee Entertainment Enterprises unveiled a corporate brand film based on its positioning of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (The World is My Family). Simultaneously, Zee News changed its presentation format under the new campaign 'Khabar Aapke Rangon Mein' (News in Your Colours).

With the aim to reaching a younger audience, a 360-degree marketing campaign will communicate the new look, informed Alok Agrawal, CEO, Zee Media Corporation. Campaign India caught up with Agrawal for more on the revamped look, plan for regional channels, and the 10+2 ad cap. Edited excerpts:

What was the idea behind new presentation format under 'Khabar Aapke Rangon Mein'?

The channel has revamped itself after quite some time. Most news channels tend to do it only once every few years. We have done this on the back of extensive research, both quantitative and qualitative. Every aspect of our channel - from the look and feel to our studios, presentation style, news content - has been changed in the revamp. We have introduced new programming, new anchors, everything in our channel that has undergone a change is a reflection of what viewers need today. While every channel is colourful today, the stance we are taking with 'Khabar Aapke Rangon Mein' is becoming more dynamic, sharp with colourful presentation. People want to consume news quickly.

We would focus a lot more on exclusive stories, deep investigations and lot more discussions and debates. All this was done around 10 November. It typically takes four to six weeks for viewers to understand and adopt the new identity. Feedback that we have got so far is extremely positive.

How much did Zee invest in this revamp?

All development has been done in-house based on consumer research. The only investments were done in consumer research, and studio, which was not huge.

Is Zee looking to re-define its TG with this revamp?

With our presentation style, the core TG has definitely been redefined. We are looking at young India. This is one of the reasons that the presentation has become youthful. But our viewer profile remains same - which is the over 25 year-olds. We wanted to give our channel a more youthful personality to attract younger audience but as seen across categories, even older people prefer youthful brands.

Zee seems to be expanding quite rapidly this year.

We have been on an overdrive since the beginning of this financial year. We have already launched two new channels in Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh and Marudhara in Rajasthan. We are on the verge of launching Zee Purvaiya in Bihar-Jharkhand and a second one in Odhisha called Zee Kalinga before the end of the year.

With Zee Punjab, we expanded the footprint to Haryana-Himachal. With regional channels, we are trying new concepts. With Marudhara we carry a mix of news, current affair and entertainment programmes since with regional channels, there isn’t enough amount of news and there is an increasing demand for localised entertainment programmes. We create lot of regional content with local participation.

We also revamped 24 Ghanta in West Bengal two months ago. Compared to any other news channel, we have been on an overdrive.

How are the revenues from your regional channels growing?

One of the reasons that we are gung-ho about regional channels is because both – viewership and ad revenues – is growing. It is difficult for 1.2 billion people to engage with national media. Regional content is a lot more relevant. People are very concerned about what is going around them. There is also a growing trend of people consuming national and regional content – both in entertainment and news. Regional channels are also viable for a lot of local advertisers. We see the regional market growing faster than the national market.

Will Zee News revamp reflect on its digital version as well?

We change look and feel of digital every three months. Some of the changes are will also be incorporated right now.

Are the effects of digitisation beginning to reflect on your viewership?

Yes. Most digitised markets have shown an increase in viewership. The viewership in the news genre, for the first time in five years, has gone up by almost 10 to 12 per cent. This is a good news, because year-on-year, the TRPs were showing that the viewership was going down.

With the new look, and 10+2 ad cap resolution still awaited, is Zee looking at an ad rate hike?

The ad rates are a function of demand, supply in the market and ratings. Currently, because there is no ad cap, supply is pretty high. In fact, most news channels anticipating that there will be an ad cap eventually are running very high levels of inventory. It is not easy to increase the rates. But we are hopeful that the ratings will start improving, and as a consequence, we will be able to demand more for our ad spots but we are not looking at it right away.

We had increased our ad rates three months ago by about 10 to 12 per cent over the previous year.

What is the ratio of advertisements per hour on Zee News currently?

We are in the region of 20 to 24 minutes of advertising per hour. We are hoping that the resolution will come out in favour of the broadcasters. If we are forced to follow what TRAI has stipulated, then it is going to be a real business disaster for all news channels, and it is impossible to charge the clients twice the money.

What are other focus areas, and financial targets for Zee this financial year?

Within channels, we are looking at increasing content across various verticals. We have lined up a sound offering in the auto space, which will have content for both print and TV. We are working on various verticals such as crime, education, and luxury.

We are looking at fairly aggressive financial growth. We have reported good numbers for first two quarters with 19 per cent growth. We are aiming at 20 to 25 per cent growth over the last year.

Campaign India