ZEE has announced that three of its channels — &TV, Zing and Living Foodz — will be available as digital-only channels, exclusively on its digital platform ZEE5 in the UK. ZEE5 is one OTT platform that really was a Johnny-come-lately, perhaps the last from the big broadcasters, but it has made quick gains — thanks to good original content and an excellent movies library — racing to more than 55 MAUs quite some time back.
Convenience-driven on-the-go viewing for end-consumers has always been a big USP of OTT platforms. To that big plus for the consumer, now add what we believe is an equally big, if not bigger, value add for the business – the ability of OTT platforms to help their parent broadcasters own the last-mile connectivity with their consumers and subscribers.
However, word from sources is that the ZEE network has no intentions of side-stepping the conventional B2C last-mile content-delivery platforms for viewers in the UK. The biggest ZEE channels, like ZEE TV, ZEE Cinema, etc, will continue to remain available through the conventional routes too. And this continued availability is not a function of long-term deals in place, but the same kind of inclusive visionary thinking that the network founder has built ZEE upon — which is belief in keeping and taking all partners along.
However, ZEE5 is already future-ready should the parent, in the future, decide that media marketplace conditions necessitate a migration of its channels’ from their current last-mile B2C intermediary viewer pipelines to the digital-only ZEE5. Remember, ZEE5 is already available in more than 190 countries, and ZEE can actually go ahead and use it as a sole distribution platform to reach its end consumers for all its linear TV channels, like it has done in Malaysia, pushing its Tamil packs across the market there. Internationally, we’ve seen this precedent of cutting the cord with intermediary distribution partners by other major broadcasters which are now delivering all their linear channels through their digital content platform pipelines.
Imagine the first Bollywood movie UK premiere to happen solely on ZEE5 – that would be a really smart way of releasing a film to an extremely sharply targeted audience, even though the total diaspora audience in the UK constitutes, at a stretch, if you consider Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, is just around 4 to 6% of the total population there. Give or take.
Zing, &TV, and Living Foodz solely through ZEE5 in the UK
To come back to the main announcement: From 1st June 2019, viewers can access ZEE5 to watch their favourite shows from &TV, Zing and Living Foodz on ZEE5 across a range of devices and enjoy the freedom of binge-watching the drama series, browsing the range of food shows from across the years and catching up on all the latest Bollywood news and gossip anytime, anywhere.
The case of the ZEE now distributing its channels Zing, &TV, and Living Foodz solely through ZEE5 in the UK is an excellent example of smartly targeting audiences that like quality content of specific genres and personality. It is also a move that permits ZEE audiences in the UK to have greater control over how, when and where they watch content, for more personalized viewing experiences. Also, it pushes the linear TV audiences (and remember, a majority of TV sets in the UK would be connected TVs and hence likely automatically able to receive and stream ZEE5 content) to explore ZEE5 considering it’s now the only pipeline of delivery for these three channels.
Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer-ZEE5 Global, said, “&TV, Zing and Living Foodz are hugely popular amongst South Asians in the UK. With carefully curated, compelling content, these channels have had a strong appeal among the diaspora audience that remains deeply connected to India via its love for Indian food, music and movies.
“As a global OTT platform with the largest width and depth of Indian content across languages. ZEE5 caters to this same audience and beyond, and we are thrilled to have these as exclusive channels in our content bouquet for our UK viewers.”
Aditya Thakur, CEO – ZEE5 EU/UK said, “As niche channels, &TV, Zing and Living Foodz have always had a discerning audience that is increasingly watching content online. Recognizing this, we wanted to give this audience the freedom to access their favourite shows on any device, whenever and wherever they want so it made perfect sense to have them available exclusively on ZEE5.
“With the growing number of people online today, this move will only help us reach newer audiences for these channels. We’re also in parallel strengthening our flagship linear channels Zee TV and Zee Cinema through an expanded content lineup, which will help us further build out our linear audiences.”
The ZEE5 sweeteners
Viewers will further have a choice of the 100,000+ hours of content ranging from TV shows, Movies, Originals, News, Videos and more than 60 Live TV channels available on ZEE5, including World Digital Premieres like Uri (Vicky Kaushal), Simmba (Ranveer Singh, Sara Ali Khan) and Accidental Prime Minister (Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna) which releases on 25th May. Also, originals like The Final Call (Arjun Rampal), Sharate Aaj (Bengali Original set in London) and Kalavu (Tamil) as well as TV Shows like Kumkum Bhagya, Jodhaa Akbar, Sembaruthi (Tamil) and much more.
While catchup TV may not be a very big draw internationally, well curated and handpicked show and movie titles and their availability at the viewing-convenience of a dedicated audience set that’s constantly on the move and so challenged for time it cannot remain tethered to linear or even connected TV viewing, is good value delivered. One expects a study of TV consumption habits in the UK amongst the diaspora would reveal a lot of consumption happens during commutes.
Meanwhile, Zee TV UK has expanded its original programming by adding a food strand “Food Ka Khazana”, at 8:30 am, 12 noon and 4 PM, from Monday to Friday. Also new in the lineup is the well-loved comedy show Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hai at 7.30 PM and Happu Ki Ultan Paltan at 9 PM, Monday through Friday. If you are looking for more drama, catch ‘Weekday Dramas’ from 5PM to 10AM with back to back horror shows like Manmohini and Laal Ishq. Zee TV is available on Sky, Virgin and ZEE5.
ZEE5 can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or iOS App Store. The app is also available on Samsung Smart TVs, Apple TVs, Android TVs and Amazon Fire TV. ZEE5 is also available on www.ZEE5.com. ZEE5 offers 100,000 hours of Indian Movies, TV Shows, Cine plays, Music, Videos and a slew of exclusive Originals, across 17 languages – English, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Punjabi, Thai, Malay, Bahasa, German and Russian. It also offers 60+ popular Live TV channels.