TV has the larger audience base that we want to tap with ZBO: Amarpreet Singh Saini, CCO, Bhojpuri Cluster

TV has the larger audience base that we want to tap with ZBO- Amarpreet Singh Saini, CCO, Bhojpuri Cluster

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd’s Bhojpuri movie channel, ZEE Biskope has created its space in the category in a concise period. The channel has launched its latest initiative Zee Biskope Originals, tapping on consumer needs, aspirations, and psychography. Zee Biskope Originals are the most curated films created by the channel for the television audience.

In an exclusive interaction with MI, Samrat Ghosh, Chief Cluster Officer – East, ZEEL and Amarpreet Singh Saini, Chief Channel Officer, Bhojpuri Cluster underlines the thought behind the initiative. Samrat and Amarpreet also speak about the campaigns that are planned for the launch and the competition in the space. It is an industry orbit-shifting model that we have adopted for ZBO, says Samrat.

Excerpts here:


Q) Tell us more about the Zee Biskope Originals . How did the idea break in?

Samrat: Let me take you back to the story of starting from the Bangla and Orissa markets. The charm of Indian cinema is magical. It transports the audience to a different universe while providing an immersive experience. People enjoy movies irrespective of their age, social-economic background, geographies, caste, creed, and religion. We wanted to be a part of this evolution journey. It is when Zee Cinema came into existence in 1994. In 2014, the Bangla Film industry produced a whole lot of movies providing an output of 120 (in numbers). Of these, only a few production houses delivered most of the hit films into the market. It was the time when the content design of films was not made relating to the target audience that existed in television. However, we wanted to cater to this large section of the audience. Our idea was to bring back Zee’s strong and robust culture with consumer centricity and innovation to create an orbit-shifting proposition for television audiences. This is how we launched Zee Bangla Cinema Originals. With this platform, we created our in-house movie production for the television audience. In 2015, we brought our first movie on the Zee Bangla Cinema Originals, creating a market rage. Over the years, we have created 92 films with popular names in the industry and given opportunities to new talents like actors, directors, singers, screenplay writers, and more. It is our way of contributing to the nurturing of the creative ecosystems.

Also Read: Zee Biskope Originals: A New Wave of Bhojpuri Movies

Later, we took the cross-learning with Zee Bangla Cinema Originals to the Orissa market. We created our first film in 2018. To date, we have produced 42 super-hit films. We provided opportunities to new talents like actors, directors, and story-writers. Having tasted success in both Bangla and Orissa markets, we are happy to introduce Zee Biskope Originals (ZBO). The contents in the ZBO are also curated for television audiences on the Bhojpuri channel. We have done extensive research for ZBO regarding people, their lives, likes, dislikes, languages, thoughts, beliefs, etc. These helped us to create our upcoming content slate.

Amarpreet: Taking a lead from Zee Sarthak and Zee Bangla, we launched Zee Biskope. Over a while, we realized a gap in the market. All the movies that we acquire on our channel are largely made for the theatres and male audiences. The action and masala genre prevails in those movies. However, audiences prefer watching family programs on television. So this family audience is under-represented in the big cinemas. This gap is huge in the Bhojpuri market. And inspired by Zee Bangla and Zee Sarthak, we realized that we already understood what the consumer wanted. We also have the creative capability, then why should we depend on what the market provides? We took control of it and the creative responsibility the way the consumer wants. This is how Zee Biskope Originals took birth. The movies that will be shown on the platform are essentially stories that are inspired by normal lives and beliefs. These stories may not find their way to the theater, but they are relatable. ZBO will bring these stories on the platform delivered in a cinematic format. The production and presentation quality will be similar to theatrical movies. It is the USP of ZBO. We are all set to launch our first ZBO, Preet Ka Saaya, on 14th May. Milap Tiwari makes the film and stars Lado Madheshiya, known for his music and singing, and Damani Bhattacharya.

Another gap we discovered has not yet made a foothold in the Bhojpuri category. A wide spectrum is available but not all genres have the viability of theater. But they may have an audience available and wider acceptability on a TV platform. These genres may also be introduced to ZBO. There’s also an amalgamation of genres happening in the overall media. All these novelty and experimentation can be provided to the audience. Hence the audience can indulge in a genre they want to dabble in.

Q) Speaking about the genres, why do you think Zee Biskope did not cater to those genres earlier?

Amarpreet: It’s not like the platform wasn’t catering the genres but the sheer availability of a wide spectrum is limited because a lot of genres were made for the cinema. The theatrical release will always see a certain kind of genre. At the same time, other genres are under-represented in the overall theatrical spectrum. The TV service so far has a larger audience base because it’s in every household, and people can access it easily. Television is also available the entire week, unlike cinema which needs prior planning.

Samrat: With our evolution journey, we would also drive the category’s growth. It is an industry orbit-shifting model that we have adopted for ZBO.

Q) Since you are targeting TV, would you like to comment on the competition on television?

Amarpreet: The competition largely remains the same as it existed earlier. However, some of our competitor channels have also made these kinds of attempts. We have not seen such a focused and curated attempt being made. We identified the gap, and it’s not just a matter of doing our production. The real skill lies in understanding the part of consumer need that’s been untapped. There is a voice and culture that has still not found its representation in what the consumer watches on television. But consumers would certainly latch on to it once it is served. We are also trying to make ZBO a brand pillar. Over a while, we want to be close to our consumers so that they see us as a reflection of themselves.

Q) What campaigns are planned around the launch?

Amarpreet: We are doing a 360-degree campaign for this launch, including TV, digital, and radio. The entire campaign has been divided into two phases. During the first phase, the focus will be on establishing ZBO as an entity. It is for people to understand these movies are separate from others and we are not just Zee Biskope. A part of this phase was concluded in the International Bhojpuri Films Award held in 2023. We showcased the entire line-up and philosophy of ZBO. So the first stage is taking the audience through the concept of ZBO. It follows two to three-week campaigns of establishing ZBO as a property.

Then we will bring our second campaign phase, which will be content-specific. The first campaign would be for Preet Ka Saaya, which is the first offering of ZBO.

Q) What kind of advertisers are you expecting?

Amarpreet: The same advertisers are on board the entire category largely governed by FMCG, automotive, and edtech sectors. As I said earlier, these stories relate to everyday and local lives. So any brand can latch on to it and amplify.

Samrat: It’s also a kind of opportunity for any advertisers because they can sponsor the film or take spots within it. Also, there is huge scope for in-film integration which ZBO has to offer to the advertisers keeping the overall esthetics intact.

Q) Why did you launch at this time of the year?

Amarpreet: We were planning to enter into the space. April, May, and June is considered a ‘Shagun’ period. Soon after, the sawaan festivities start. It is also a vacation period when families are homebound in summer and looking for entertainment. It’s also the available PUT. So it is the right time frame for us.

Also Read: Zee Biskope is bringing back International Bhojpuri Film Awards after 3 yrs

Q) How many films are there in the pipeline?

Amarpreet: We have an entire year’s calendar of almost one ZBO every month. The most important ones are the festive launches in the Sawaan and Chhat periods. The festive space was not strongly explored before. These kinds of movies will now form a large part of our content slate for the entire year till March.

Samrat: The idea is also to focus on quality rather than quantity. Because for movie viewership, the most important thing is the repeatable kind of viewership model. That is how many times a particular movie is streamed on the platform. So we are creating an IP for which we want to ensure great quality wherein the usage should be at a higher frequency during the course of the first year.

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