ZEE Touts Growth with “Local for Local” Strategy
Nov 10th 2022
Ashok Namboodiri, chief business officer for international business at Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE), and Manoj Mathew, territory head for MENAPT and the Americas, talk to World Screen about the gains the company has made globally and where it is eyeing for future growth.
Even with the challenges of the pandemic that were felt across the globe, it has been a period of growth and change for ZEE over the last three years, according to Namboodiri. “The need for quality and diverse content has gone up significantly,” he says. “And I’ll just add a phrase: local for local, which is what we at ZEE have begun to do. In markets like the Middle East and Africa, we’ve been principled in our effort for local production.”
He also points to the globalization of content as an encouraging shift that has led to gains for ZEE. “Diverse content has started traveling the world,” he says. “Markets like Latin America are a big focus for us, and we believe that our content is gaining much more currency and acceptance across these markets.”
Namboodiri highlights the strengths of the pipeline that feeds ZEE’s content portfolio. One of which is Indian content. “We have a 30-year legacy in India, so there’s a wealth of content, storylines and ideas; that continues to be our mainstay.”
ZEE has also been sourcing international content, including from the Middle East, Turkey, Pakistan and neighboring countries.
The third pillar supporting the catalog is local production. “We’re very, very bullish on that,” Namboodiri says. “We’ve done that in Africa and the Middle East.”
These three sources provide a wealth of programming for the slate that runs that gamut from rom-coms to family dramas, sports documentaries to thrillers. “We’ve experimented more in recent times, covering a wider set of themes,” he says.
Looking closer at the strategy for LatAm, Mathew notes the experience gained from the launch of Zee Mundo, a Spanish-language pay-TV Bollywood movie channel that launched in 2016 but has since been taken off the air. He says that now, FAST is a focus for making inroads in this market. “We may look at thematic FAST or linear FAST,” he says.
Mathew also mentions co-productions in Latin America. “In terms of storylines, a lot of stories from India will resonate in the LatAm market,” he says, adding that it would be ideal to work with independent production houses in that region.
“We are open to stories from that particular market,” Mathew adds. “When we say co-production, a lot of people love to sell the scripted format. The model we are actually back to, and that we have done very successfully for the last six years in MENA is: we believe in our stories, and we will co-fund it with you. We want to find the right partners. We understand that in local markets, there are certain nuances to production that happen at the ground level. So, we want to work with the right local partners that have their own strengths. We can give them our stories and our production expertise, but they can then take the creative flow on their own.”
Published in worldscreen