How Zee5 is winning India’s heart with heartland stories


How Zee5 is winning India’s heart with heartland stories

There are many things that tie Zee5 with other global OTT players but one thing that makes them stand out from the rest, and that is their sole focus on pushing Indian content. It has been the factor behind their growth as a homegrown platform, and the identity in turn is emerging as a USP in the platforms war against the foreign players.

“Focusing on Indian content plays an extremely important role in our overall growth and strategy,” Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, Zee5 India, told IANS.

If the strategy is paying off, they want to tread the path in future, too.

“We are constantly looking out and producing inspiring stories from the heartland that leave a mark on the viewers. The true example of this would be our recently launched film ‘Kaagaz’. (Lead actor) Pankaj Tripathi and (director) Satish Kaushik received messages from regions that have not even seen the sight of a theatre hall. That is the true power of good content,” he added.

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When the OTT platform launched in 2018, it came with the wide experience and know-how of the Zee Group, which has mastered the art of ruling the small screen over the years. All the insight worked for them, and gave them an opportunity to break into the regional market. Some of their popular Originals include “Karenjit Kaur: The Untold Story Of Sunny Leone”, “Rangbaaz”, “Parchhayee: Ghost Stories By Ruskin Bond”, “The Final Call”, “Abhay” and “REJCTX”.

“We are proud of how far we have come. We have always aimed at producing quality content and bringing real stories to the forefront. Our USP has been to bring content that’s diverse in terms of languages, genres and talent,” Kalra said.

He continued: “Since inception, our primary goal has always been to bring the best of content to our viewers consistently, be it on television or OTT. For instance, popular Zee TV shows like ‘Ishq Aaj Kal’, ‘Jamai Raja’ and ‘Qubool Hai’ have all seen a spin-off on Zee5.”

“The web series version of ‘Ishq Aaj Kal’ received a fantastic response, ‘Jamai 2.0′ Season 2 premieres this month and ‘Qubool Hai’ will see its digital debut in March. These shows are extremely nostalgic to the Indian audience and they love the characters,” added Kalra.

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To their advantage, they have an aggressive content line-up, hyper-personalisation, and lower-price options, which gives them an edge over Netflix, Amazon and Disney.

“We have built our business on the back of regional language content, and it has helped us connect with the semi-urban audience. Further, on an average, we have been launching four Hindi originals a month, through which we have been trying to appeal to the millennials and the premium metro consumers,” Kalra pointed out.

The plan is simple: Go over the top with ‘desi’ content for the OTT world.

“Consumers are spoilt for choice and hence OTT platforms with diversity of content will play a major role in up-ticking their stickiness. At the back of an aggressive slate of content line-up and hyper-personalisation, we aim to make deeper inroads into Indian homes in 2021, and we expect the growth to come from the Tier II and III towns. This will be a year of ‘deeper regionalisation’,” Kalra added.

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Asked what their focus in the future is, Kalra replied: “We grew 200 per cent in 2020, and our viewership came from across the country, truly making Zee5 a daily affair to reckon with. What’s worked well for us is our ability to deliver content in almost all Indian languages — both, the UI and UX are purposed in over 12 Indian languages, as well as our ability to purpose our platform across various devices, ecosystems, and operating systems.”

How Zee5 is winning India’s heart with heartland stories

“Apart from constantly reinventing our existing business models, the focus will be to maximise our core, expand into adjacent spaces and explore new areas of business. With an undeterred focus on growth and profitability, our aim would be to constantly enhance shareholder value,” Kalra summed up.

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