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Focused on leveraging content and making the brand more approachable, says Manish Kalra of Zee5

Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, Zee5 India, talks about the brand’s new campaign and business approach

Manish Kalra

Over-the-top player Zee5 has launched an integrated campaign focusing on the channel’s large free library along with its paid content. The campaign titled ‘Any Time Manoranjan’ mainly targets the TV-viewing audience in the country that might not have sampled the platform’s content.

“The objective is to initiate the uninitiated into the online world. We realised that while a lot of people have moved online, there are a lot of people who have not sampled us, particularly as an OTT platform. We wanted to give them a very clear consumer benefit, answering why Zee5 and what’s in it for them in a very creative way,” said Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, Zee5 India. 

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Kalra said they are focusing on the TV-viewing audience that might not be just ready to pay for content yet. “The objective is to get them on our platform and enable them with not only their favourite shows but also content like movies, which are usually paid. Enabling them to engage with us and stick to us; and ensure we have a good journey together. If they like what we are offering, they will eventually pay. Obviously, we’re all here for business but here it is about at least giving them a nudge and sampling our content. For our paid subscribers also, we have the first episode free for all the original content we create. With this, we are just focused on giving more engaging content to a person who is willing to watch free but not paying us right now,” he explained. 

The film:

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He said the core audience is a 25-45-year-old lady, who is home most of the time and catches up on her TV in the available time when the kids are at school and the husband is at the office. Now due to the pandemic and work from home, she does not have time to catch up. “We realised that this lady has high aspirations and needs to be connected to the latest and greatest happenings around her. So Anytime Manoranjan enables her to become self-dependent and empowered; and watch her favourite TV shows.”  

He said they have made a library of 1,500+ movies across languages, which were earlier behind a paywall, available for free. Asked if making so much content free could affect the brand, Kalra said as the audience has a habit of consuming ads, it is a win-win situation for everyone. 

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“Obviously from a consumer perspective, they are used to watching content with ads on TV that they believe is free but they do pay the Rs 200 monthly subscription to whichever cable operator they are subscribing to. So it is the same for us; we monetise this user by showing ads but the density of ads in our case would be much lower than what they get on TV. But it is a free service funded by advertisers from a consumer perspective because they’ve been trained to watch ads; they are fine watching them and it works. It’s a win-win for all of us. So I think it’s more about making the brand more approachable and democratising the content and making it available to more and more users than keeping it behind a paywall and only a few benefitting from it,” he explained. 

He said they are seeing good traction on the SVOD and AVOD sides of the business as well. “If you look at overall 65-66 million users that come on a monthly basis, a lot of them are watching content with ads in terms of numbers. Almost 10-15% might be behind the paywall. But having said that, the point is that if I as a user like the content you’re giving me and the sampling you’re providing and I like the paid content, I move to that side. So that’s a kind of strategy where we expand the top of the funnel and then we keep moving them more and more towards the paid content.” 

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“Consumers have a lot of choices and a lot of other OTTs, but our objective is to give them content that they can relate to. And that comes as strength to us from the house of Zee. We are the biggest content production company in the country. The kind of regional languages we cater to, no one else does. So definitely, we’re leveraging the strength of content, understanding the needs of the user and providing them with solutions that they like to watch,” he said. 

Speaking about the new regulations for OTT platforms, he said they benefit the end-user as it gives them clarity about content. Asked how the platform is adapting to the regulations as they focus on parenting controls and age disclaimers, he said, “There are some things that are not so clear on which we are working with our peers in the industry to make a representation with the governing body. But more so, I think we're all aligned to categorising content. There is some clarification the industry is seeking and we'll keep working with the government to ensure that it's a win-win for all of us.” 

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