Anirban Roy Choudhury
Post Lockdown

"TV changes post lockdown will definitely not be subtle": Prathyusha Agarwal, ZEE

Prathyusha Agarwal, chief consumer officer, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, or ZEEL, shares her views on the new normal, post lockdown.

Once the lockdown is lifted, what will be your top 3 big priorities?

There is a whole bunch of conversation right now on dealing with the immediate (future). But, what will be supercritical is planning for when we come out of this, because that's what, I think, everybody is very eagerly waiting for. So, in that sense, for me, the top three priorities are:

First and foremost is from people’s point of view. Given that we are a creative organisation, a lot of people gather the content, and so creating a safe work environment filled with positivity is crucial. Having a workplace that's fully equipped to ease our people and partners into the new normal would be the topmost priority. Creativity will only blossom (bloom) in the right environment.

The second one is more from a consumer’s point of view. Indians are anxious and concerned right now, but at the same time, they are also optimistic about the future and being able to come out of this soon. Also, Indians are more concerned right now about disruption to their routine, rather than health, or the immediate (future). We are looking at how our channel brands can fuel positivity in the new normal.

The third and the most critical one is the content offerings, which should reflect the change in mindset. The world has definitely changed... we are looking at creating a content and knowledge bank, which will help us bring alive new stories, slices of life, maybe light-hearted content that will possibly help ease into the new normal, quicker post lockdown.

Will your market behave the way it was before the lockdown, or will there be subtle changes?

TV changes post lockdown will definitely not be subtle. There has been an explosion in the category, a tectonic shift in terms of consumption. Families have turned to their trusted TV to remain connected to the world in this period of social isolation. Television viewership has surged to 1.27 trillion viewing minutes. Almost 70 per cent of the families are joining in as early as 8 a.m... Also, the composition of consumption - the entire family watching together, some of it will remain even after the lockdown is over.

Also Read: Lockdown: Dainik Bhaskar's circulation dipped by 15-20% "witnessing improvement": Girish Agarwal

What changes have you observed so far?

Southern markets have always been very high on penetration and consumption... Now what you're seeing is the rest of the Hindi Speaking Markets (HSM), such as the Rajasthans and Punjabs of the world, suddenly move to the headroom, which existed forever. Both consumption during the day, and also the overall number of people tuning in to consume TV, has exploded in these markets, and are almost catching up to the levels of the south.

What you are seeing is slightly under-penetrated, under-consumed regions now going to full consumption and penetration. I think as we come out of this, it will all settle at a new high, which will be a residual effect of this current explosion. Also, the whole non-prime time, which was about one-fourth of prime time in non-South markets, will now settle at half. Day viewing during Sundays will increase as the family has now become used to watching TV together.

Prathyusha Agarwal
Prathyusha Agarwal

How will your communication language change post this period? Will you avoid using analogies that might remind people about what they can’t do?

See, the heart actually longs for what you are deprived of. You seek what you can't do in the real world. As consumers come out of this period, the affiliation towards stepping out will be high, but so will be the fear of what will happen when I step out. So, we're looking at our communication compensating for it in a big way.

Also Read: "It's time to recalibrate thinking, budgets, advertising": Shashank Srivastava, ED, Maruti Suzuki India

Will you then shift your spends more towards mediums that offer in-home marketing?

We had already relooked (at) our media vehicles much before COVID-19, given the emotional nature of our content and the stories that we sell. We've already looked at a lot more of video-led media being a predominant vehicle, and the others possibly being fit-to-purpose added as complimentary media. So, in that sense, our media mix won't change... But yes, definitely, with people not stepping out so much, or being a lot more careful when they step out, we are looking at in-home media a lot more, and TV being our primary tool.

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