South Indian content has been gaining popularity globally, whether it's at the Oscars, on the big screen, or on streaming platforms. One such platform is Zee5, which has been investing heavily in Tamil and Telugu language content.
In 2023, Zee5 plans to launch around 20 titles, with a focus on increasing its Telugu slate from 11 titles in 2022.
This is because the platform is seeing more contributions from the regional market in terms of viewership and subscribers.
After Tamil, ZEE5 doubles down on Telugu content to up its subscriber base
The OTT saw a 54 percent increase in viewer base in the Tamil region in the last 12 months. The watch time for Tamil content per day increased by 23 percent, according to data shared by Zee5.
"Regional accounts for 50 percent of subscribers on the platform and a big part of regional is Tamil and Telugu along with Bangla and Punjabi. The South India audience have more appetite to consume content," said Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 India.
This is why Kalra said that they had invested in getting rights to only south versions of RRR, the film that won Best Original Song for 'Naatu Naatu'.
He said that as the viewers down south love their movie stars the content portfolio is skewed towards movies. "Also, originals take 12 to 18 months to roll out. So, right now in terms of the number of titles, the skew is slightly favoring movies."
The plan is to release one every second week one content either an original or a movie, said Siju Prabhakaran, Chief Cluster Officer – South, Zee Entertainment. "Around 20-25 pieces of content in each of the regional market is the plan."
Kalra said that as more titles are being launched in regional languages, investments will be higher for that segment.
Adding more to Tamil slate, ZEE5 invests 3x in regional content to expand subscriber base
In the third quarter of FY23, Zee5 clocked monthly active users (MAUs) of 119.5 million and daily active users of 11.5 million, Zee noted in its investor presentation. The streaming platform launched over 50 shows including six originals during the quarter. The OTT reported revenues of Rs 194.3 crore.
On content cost, Kalra said that like the video streaming industry, Zee5 is in a high investment phase.
"We are in the phase of expanding the market and getting subscribers on board. So, that takes its own time as well as investments that are disproportionate to revenues we generate."
He added that the OTT is exploring the non-sports space for growth.
Plus, the focus is all on regional. "Bangla is a big focus for us and we already launched three originals. New languages will keep coming up. We will keep opening new markets," he said.