No impact on viewership or ad revenue due to TRAI's NTO, says Zee's Siju Prabhakaran

The southern cluster of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. is poised to be the growth engine of the network as all four channels are expanding their content to rake in more ad revenue. In an interview with, the Executive Vice-President and Cluster Head, South Business at the network talks about their growth strategy. He speaks about the impact of TRAI's NTO

Swagata Panjari
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No impact on viewership or ad revenue due to TRAI's NTO, says Zee's Siju Prabhakaran

Siju Prabhakaran

After expanding its footprint across all four languages in the Southern market, media group Zee now aims to acquire a leadership position in the southern cluster with the help of an aggressive content strategy.

The network aims to strengthen its fictional properties by offering content that spans across genres in all the Southern languages. After witnessing an increased viewership in the afternoon slot of Zee Tamil and Zee Telugu, the network plans to experiment it in other markets.

Speaking about its plans for 2019, Siju Prabhakaran, Executive Vice-President and Cluster Head, South Business, Zee, said, “I think the foundation is made and with an aggressive content strategy, we are poised to attain next level of growth. South as a cluster has grown well for us, and it has made a very significant mark in the Zee network’s growth.”

The southern markets contribute 33% of the total viewership and 23% of ad share for Zeel. With the launch of Zee Keralam, the network enjoys 100 GRP mark in the Malayalam market and is looking forward to the continued growth.

In an interview with, Prabhakaran also spoke about the challenges and opportunities poised by the new tariff order (NTO) of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and its impact.


TRAI’s NTO has created a lot of disturbance in the TV distribution ecosystem. How is Zee’s south cluster faring this storm?

TRAI’s NTO has offered the consumer the freedom to choose channels of their liking. We are poised well to look at this thing in a positive light as Zee consumers’ love is there for the content that we provide. We feel that we have made a connection with consumers through the content and brand that we have created. We will keep growing from time to time and we will see how best we can serve our consumers.

With NTO, have you witnessed any impact on viewership?

Through the initial senses from the South market, we feel that Zee as a bouquet has a strong regional content along with other offering, which is clearly a strong play. The consumer has a strong liking for our shows and it is seen through their choice of packs. As we speak, the process of choosing packs and collating data is happening.

How has been the advertisers’ response as channel blackouts are happening after the implementation of the regime?

There was a time when there was a lack of clarity on whether TRAI is going to extend the deadline, At that point of time, advertisers were a bit apprehensive of their money. Once that became clear, I haven't seen much of an impact. BARC has also given an advisory that till the data stabilises, there won't be any ratings. So, we aren’t witnessing any impact on the ad revenue front.

In such an ecosystem, are you changing your marketing and promotional strategies? How are you planning to market your new initiatives?

While a new scene is been introduced, from a marketing standpoint, reaching out to the consumer is always something we do. We keep analysing which medium works well for us to connect with the consumer. We do a lot of ground activation, which works well for us across markets as it allows us to interact with the consumers who not only give us feedback about our shows but also about us. Other than that we have a very 360-degree approach and we do the regular activities for any campaign. It is a continuous process but the ground activation is something that has yielded a result for us.

Since content is going to be a determining factor for a channel’s fate. How are you strengthening your content offering?

Absolutely, content is a determining factor in selecting the packs and channels. We have learnt that if you offer consumer content in their language, then it has a greater impact. Hence, we have a very aggressive content plan across our languages. Even in a new market like Kerala, we have 52 hours of content. We have new launches in Zee Tamil, Zee Kannada or Zee Telugu and on the basis of feedback, we replace our shows. Across South, we have considerable viewership in the afternoon, especially in the Telugu and Tamil markets. We have original shows in Telugu and Tamil and as we continue, we will be releasing shows in other markets.

While GECs can lean on their tent-pole shows to attract viewership, the scenario is different for movie channels. How do you plan to strengthen your movie channel library?

Movies are continued investment. We would be investing in acquiring titles for each of these markets. We know exactly how many movies we want and what kind of movies we want. We buy movies like 2.0 and we also buy movies that might cater to the rural audience. 

From an overall growth perspective, South had a good year. Which market played an important role in the growth?

Within the South cluster, every channel had an impact in the growth, Zee Tamil is today in the second position. The Southern market contributes 33% of Zee viewership and 23% of its ad share. Zee Tamil’s Sembaruthi is the number one show in Tamil Nadu. The channel has slot leadership and almost 24% share. The growth of the channel is based mainly on fiction shows as the shows are the leaders in three slots in prime time.

Even in Karnataka, we are in a leadership position with Zee Kannada. Our fiction shows are doing well in that market, which has helped us to gain the top spot. Zee Telugu has always been a strong channel and we continue to be strong on fiction, non-fiction and movies. Our movie channel Zee Cinemalu is the fastest-growing movie channel in the Andhra Pradesh market.

The big thing we did this year is Zee Keralam, which completes our language offering across every market. In the Malayalam market, we have 100 GRP mark and we are looking forward to its continued growth in the coming year. I think the foundation is made and with an aggressive content strategy, we are poised to the next level of growth. South as a cluster has grown well for us, we have made a very significant mark in the Zee growth.

What opportunities or challenges do you see for the year 2019?

We are on a growth journey, we are still a work in progress. The south cluster has performed well but we see lot of scope to grow in a certain market and genre. We see a good scope to grow in the Kerala market. In Tamil, we are very aggressive and we are on a path to see what needs to be done. There are some interesting things that are planned for the Tamil market. In the Telugu market, we are planning to offer interesting fiction shows. While we are number one in Kannada, our job is to solidify and make sure that we have leadership across the slots in prime time. So, at every market, we are at different stages of growth and each will potentially translate into a better advertising opportunity.

We are seeing the opportunity to be present across genres. There are certain time bands where the viewership is not well so there is an opportunity for us to grow. Every year, we look at areas where we are not doing well, and that is an opportunity for us. And now the biggest opportunity and challenge is to stay consumer-focused as they are going to decide our faith. If you stay focused on the consumers, then you will be able to think of new ideas.

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd TRAI's NTO Siju Prabhakaran