BGR India has recently begun a new series of interviews called BGR Talks. As part of the series, BGR India has conducted interviews with top industry stakeholders, CEOs, founders, and more. To kick things off, BGR India spoke with Tarun Katial, the CEO of ZEE5 in the inaugural edition of the series.
Tarun Katial started off his career with advertising at agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, Enterprise Nexus Lowe, and Ogilvy & Mather. He moved on to Star TV followed by Sony Pictures and currently he is the CEO of ZEE5 and has been so for the past 3 years. While he has many achievements under his belt, some of the more prominent ones include India Today 30 on 30, Media Gold at Cannes, and NewsCorp Achiever for Asia.
The interview started off with Tarun sharing details about his journey and perseverance that led to him creating channels like Big Magic (part of Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd.) and Ganga. He was involved in the creation of extremely popular shows like KBC, Khul Ja Sim Sim, Indian Idol, and Fear Fact. He even brought ZEE5 into the equation as not just one of the biggest OTT platforms of India, but the biggest in the vernacular space.
Impact of COVID on ZEE5, and more
The questions then moved to the present situation with the COVID pandemic has affected all walks of life and especially that of the OTT. Tarun addressed this and said, that the situation has affected all things digital and has accelerated the adoption of such technologies.
The lockdown saw an increase in the number of ZEE5 premium users. And they have started consuming all kinds of content on different devices. Even direct to digital movies have become a reality and have seen acceptance. Tarun also shared details about different digital devices that have gained popularity in this new environment. He also said that the growth of viewership on smart TVs has been quite significant. Of course, this is courtesy to ZEE5’s collaboration with Sony, Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, and even Android.
Tarun also believes that AI and big data show the most promise in the future. In fact, these technologies are already in use at ZEE5 in terms of Marketing, Service, rationalization, recommendation, and consumer cloud. These are essential in advertisement targeting and customer service which are core to the business. These technologies help solve and address issues quickly.
As for gamification of the OTT platform, ZEE5 is planning a virtual league called the ZEE Super Family league. These will include the characters from the different soaps which the user can collect to form their teams. He also addressed the evolution of daily soaps has involved themes, and user empowerment as well. These resonate with the new mindset of the people now. There has been an increase in the number of male-oriented soaps from genres they like crime and thrillers.
Some of the lighter questions included how people react to him when they know that he was behind some of the most interesting shows in the industry. And people apparently take an interest in the kind of interaction he’s had with the stars in these shows. Tarun got personal and even said that he prefers watching TV shows on his own smart TV as the preferred platform.