Setting Eyes on New Frontiers

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As the Zee Group gears up to expand its global reach, Amit Goenka, CEO, International Broadcast Business, talks about the goals and strategies that would drive the group’s international ambitions in the next few years and what kind of challenges he expects to face while entering new territories

The geographical spread of Zee Entertainment is an amazing story. Now that you have set your foot to lead the international portfolio at ZEE, where do you see this going ahead?

With our Vision 2020 goal of becoming one of the top global media companies in five years, we have a very strong expansion focus in the international market. We want to go beyond the South Asian diaspora in other countries and reach out to the local audiences globally. While we have been mainly re-purposing our existing content — dubbing or sub-titling it in the local languages — we have also started with select local productions in international territories such as the Middle East, Russia and certain countries in Asia. Going ahead, we are focusing on Germany, Africa, Latin America, APAC and the Middle East as the key markets for expansion.

Expanding Indian content to new territories is pushing the soft power of India? Please share your comments.

There is a large reservoir of values in India that the world can benefit from. We take it as our responsibility to share this around the globe in an entertaining way.

Do you see visible changes happening around the media business today? The tide is towards digital…

The world is going digital in a very big way today. With consumers preferring devices with larger screens along with the availability of cheaper, faster bandwidth, we are seeing a lot of video consumption happening on second-screen devices such as mobile phones and tablets. Consumers, especially the youth, are displaying a preference for shorter, bite-sized video content which can be viewed and shared conveniently. With consumers wanting to consume content anytime, anywhere on their smart devices, all the big players in the Indian media industry are now massively expanding to digital.

The business models are changing rapidly in the global media space. Many markets are giving way to SVOD and OTT. Where do you see ZEE grow global in this space both in content and platform?

Digital is a major focus area for us. Internationally, our Zeefamily.tv Application is already available in the US as well as in select Asia Pacifi c countries, where it has received wonderful traction since its launch. The Catch-up feature and the VOD option have found strong preference with our viewers. Our goal was to make ZEE’s extensive library of content available to our viewers wherever and whenever they want to watch TV. In India, we have recently launched OZEE, a user-friendly AVOD platform which will deliver the best of entertainment content from ZEE within minutes of its television telecast. Our other subscriptionled OTT platform, dittoTV, which was India’s fi rst OTT platform, has received wide acceptance and has already started producing original content.

The global footprint of ZEE and its content distribution is spread across continents? Do you see growth focus in any particular region?

Our international growth and expansion is not limited to any particular region. While our Germany launch is next on the cards, we are also looking at Latin America, parts of APAC and Africa.

India is one of the most liberal media markets in the world. Is there a level playing field for an Indian company like ZEE when going to new markets? What are the challenges?

There are many challenges and differ in accordance with each market. Some markets are over congested, while some are saturated in penetration. With a move towards digital, this is changing. We also believe as a sincere and dedicated media enterprise, there is always place amongst the audience markets for us.

The Indian M&E industry has set an ambitious target to reach $100 billion from current $20 billion levels over the next five to seven years. How much of this can come from international markets? Do you see this happening?

This will depend on the regulatory framework being conducive for India in the foreign markets. The film, television and digital industry from India will certainly lead the foray in the international markets.

What are the challenges of achieving this?

Local competition, established players, uncertainty of distribution platforms, volatile economic and socio-political scenarios as well as the audience shift to new devices and mediums are some of the main challenges.

Investment (primarily infrastructure), skill sets and innovation are critical elements in M&E growth going forward. All these three are insufficient/scarce in the Indian media space. How do we scale new heights?

Infrastructure is definitely the area where support is required from our own establishments. Skill sets and innovation are scalable and India is amongst the world’s best talent pools. Faster innovation is the key to reach new heights.

 

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