Mena region shines in ZEE5’s international growth push

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, Zee Global.
Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, Zee Global.

Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Sat 8 Oct 2022, 12:15 AM

ZEE5, the video on demand and OTT service from Zee, the Indian media conglomerate, sees the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region as a key revenue driver for its international business, according to a senior company official.

“We have seen significant growth, especially over the past year, with a 50 per cent increase in our user base and nearly 40 per cent year-on-year revenue growth (in the MENA region),” Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, Zee Global, told Khaleej Times.

She added, “Today, we are the leading platform across the GCC markets when it comes to South Asian entertainment, as per reports, a position underpinned by our rich content library and strong grassroots marketing strategies and one that we are aggressively looking to build out more strongly over the year.”

The OTT market has seen a lot of action in the last few years. Global players like Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime compete with local players such as OSN Plus and Starzplay Arabia to grab viewer attention and subscription.

According to a 2021 report by Parrot Analytics, a global audience demand measurement provider, Netflix leads the OTT pack with over 40 per cent market share in the UAE.

First launched in India in 2018, the ZEE5 platform has content in 12 Indian and six international languages.

ZEE5 is seeing a significant increase in viewership for South Indian languages in the last two years.

“There is also a massive audience for South Indian content. We have seen a significant uptick in Malayalam and Tamil content consumption. In particular, Malayalam content today drives over 20 per cent of content consumption in the region. Our recent Telugu and Tamil content releases have also seen great traction,” Ms. Anand said.

Anand said: “The Middle East has one of the most influential South Asian communities globally and they span a vast cultural and linguistic spectrum. With the largest width and depth of content across genres and languages and Pakistani and Bangladeshi shows, we cater to the diaspora’s increasing demand for content from back home.”

She added: “Our content library across South Indian languages helps us strike a deep chord with these communities. We also have a library of more than 4000 Bollywood movies, which is a huge draw among Bollywood fans in the market, including mainstream audiences.”

The ZEE5 team believes Bollywood and Hindi content remains a crucial viewership driver in the UAE market, even attracting viewership from Emirati audiences who have historically had a deep love for Hindi movies.

“We also see a trend in the MENA market of people increasingly experimenting with content in other non-native and international languages. With content being available dubbed or subtitled in English, audiences are increasingly becoming language agnostic and simply looking for great stories and storytelling. We see this as a rapidly evolving trend in the Mena region and other markets,” concluded Anand.

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