ZEEL’s Prathyusha Agarwal on TV consumption explosion during coronavirus

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With the coronavirus pandemic taking the globe by surprise, television and digital streaming consumption has exploded like no other time. BizAsia’s Raj Baddhan caught up with Ms. Prathyusha Agarwal, Chief Consumer Officer, ZEEL about how the company is responding to the lockdown and how it is preparing itself for the emerging trend.

The coronavirus has hit the global economy severely, however, the consumption for entertainment platforms including television has seen a huge surge in India, what’s your take on this?
This is an unprecedented situation which has no parallel with any other event we have seen in our lifetime. As the leading media & entertainment network, we at ZEE see it as our responsibility to keep our consumers positively engaged, entertained and well informed, helping them sail through these tough times. Confinement at home has families turning to their trusted television set for information & entertainment to remain connected to the world in a period of social isolation. The latest BARC data for the week ending 20th March shows that the consumption of television content has increased by over 72 Bn viewing minutes, already leading to an 8% jump in total viewership over the last 3 weeks of January. There is a healthy growth in average daily reach (6%) as well as average time spent (2%). With people staying at home, more people are watching television and watching more television every day.

Taking into consideration the explosion in TV consumption and the changing composition of audiences, there is a need to customise programming for this emerging trend.

A lot of the growth in time spent is inevitably coming from the news genre but Movies and Kids genres have also seen growth in time spent of 4% and 11% respectively. Compared to the pre-lockdown 4-week average, maximum growth in viewership can be seen in the afternoon band (12-2pm) and morning band (10am-12pm) at 29% and 31% respectively. The reach of the kids audience has gone up by 29% for the movies genre while their time spent has gone up for GECs and movies by 28% and 26% respectively. Additionally, the movies genre has also seen a spike of 14% in both, reach and time spent amongst male audiences. ZEE has witnessed similar rise in Non-Prime Time (NPT) and Movies Genre consumption across markets. The clear trend we infer from this is the entire family now consuming more of television through the day and a convergence between weekday and weekend viewership behavior as a result of the new normal of social distancing.

In fact, viewership in India is also mirroring global trends in TV consumption. For example, according to Kantar, Spain has 6 hours of time spent over the weekend of 14-15th March, the highest levels of average household ever. China has seen growth in time spent by 70 minutes, moving up to 7 hours and 40 minutes per TV viewer per day. Going forward as well, we see further increases in the time being spent on television by every member of the family.

With lockdown expected to be extended in India, how do you think broadcasters will survive with original and innovative content to keep viewers hooked? Plans for the next few months?
Our foremost priority at ZEE is to ensure that everyone follows the necessary hygiene and social distancing protocols and we are trying to communicate this message extensively to people through all our channels which reach the length, breadth and depth of this country in their bhasha and boli. Taking into consideration the explosion in TV consumption and the changing composition of audiences, there is a need to customise programming for this emerging trend.

At ZEE, we have geared up to serve these emerging trends with content for everyone in the family. For instance, starting 25th March, Zee TV introduced an exclusive band ‘PyaarVyaar Originals’ with three new finite series including Sakshi Tanwar and Ram Kapoor starrer ‘Karle Tu Bhi Mohabbat’, Sharman Joshi Starrer ‘Baarish’ and Ronit Roy Starrer ‘Kehne Ko Humsafar Hain’ for the first time on television between 9 pm and 11 pm every weeknight. Longer bingeworthy episodes of our popular fiction shows have also been lined up across most channels to provide an immersive experience to our viewers who are staying much longer in front of the television. &TV has also lined up curated specials of their comedy hits along with inspirational and devotional content to bring in positivity into our viewers’ living rooms. We are also bringing back the most loved shows from our library across our channels, like ‘Kasamh Se’ on ZEE TV, ‘Sambhaji’ on ZEE Marathi, and ‘Goyenda Ginni’ on ZEE Bangla amongst others.

Longer bingeworthy episodes of our popular fiction shows have also been lined up across most channels.

Our non-fiction programming and award show based content is also being increased as it witnesses higher stickiness amongst families and has a higher affinity among the male audiences. As movies see higher affinities for males and with the rise in viewership on the Movies genre, our 4800+ strong Movie Library across languages is also being deployed to best engage audiences across the country. In addition to this, we have rolled out fresher content and film festivals across our channels to keep the audiences engaged. We have constantly believed and reiterated the strong connection that television brings to our lives and in bringing together family members from all age groups. With this increasing rise in consumption, we are determined to ensure our shows act as the primary glue to hold families and societies together during this period of social distancing.

Updated: 11:40

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