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Half of Zee5's new investments to be used for acquiring Tamil, Telugu and Bangla content

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Half of Zee5's new investments to be used for acquiring Tamil, Telugu and Bangla content

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"Tamil alone accounts for nearly 15 to 20 percent of the total minutes consumed on Zee 5, while Telugu is also headed in a similar direction,” said Manish Kalra, chief business officer, Zee5, "Nearly 30 to 40 percent of our subscriptions come from South India, which is very fast-paced when compared to the overall industry."

Popular OTT player Zee5 plans on giving its regional-content acquisition a shot in the arm. The company told CNBC-TV18, in an exclusive chat that it expects nearly half of its future investments to be earmarked for acquiring quality content in Tamil, Telugu and Bangla.
"Tamil alone accounts for nearly 15 to 20 percent of the total minutes consumed on Zee 5, while Telugu is also headed in a similar direction,” said Manish Kalra, chief business officer, Zee5, "Nearly 30 to 40 percent of our subscriptions come from South India, which is very fast-paced when compared to the overall industry."
Kalra added, "We want to double down and scale up our investments in Tamil, Telugua and Bangla content. At present, 40 percent of our investments go to these languages — we want to scale it up to 50 percent or more."
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Not surprisingly, Zee5 is quietly confident about its prospects in the vernacular language content space. After all, the company is well leveraged in the Southern regions thanks to the Zee Network’s presence in multiple language clusters across the country.
The OTT platform recently announced a slew of titles to its Tamil language slate including Prakash Raj starrer ‘Anantham’ and ‘Paper Rocket’ featuring new-age heartthrob, Kalidas Jayaram. The platform has also announced the production and release of original Tamil titles like ‘Yaanai’ and 'Thamezharasan'.
Investments to the tune of "hundreds of millions of dollars"
The OTT arm of Zee now says it will earmark big-ticket investments — to the tune of “hundreds of millions of dollars” — in regional content. “I can’t share exact investment numbers but I can tell you that if the market invested $600 million in regional content through 2021, we were a significant double-digit percentage of that," said Kalra, "Our (future) investment numbers would be in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars."
However, to do this, Zee5 will have to grow much higher than the present-day market CAGR, which according to a report by Deloitte stands at 20 percent. "Unless we grow at twice the market rate, we are not doing well," said Kalra, "We also estimate that the market will grow at 25 percent and not 20 percent or lower."
Reasons for rapid growth across the board are on account of multiple factors including prolific rates of internet penetration, a blitzkrieg of good devices at low prices, better connected-TV penetration and the ocean of quality content being produced. Zee5 says it hopes to bank on these tailwinds to ensure it grows at a double the market rate.
'No plans to cut prices'
However, what Zee5 will not be doing in order to secure these growth targets is a cut prices. At roughly Rs 299 per month for its content bouquet, the OTT platform, Kalra says, is reasonably priced, "We are priced very well for the Indian masses and want to ensure that more people enjoy our content."
These comments come even as OTT platforms like Netflix have announced recent tariff-cuts in order to widen the user base, which has remained flat through the last six years of the platform’s presence in India, "We are already at a very affordable price, so that isn’t a barrier; pricing is not a discussion point for us," said Kalra.
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