Mumbai, Oct 31 (PTI) Media conglomerate Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE), which has completed 25 years of operations, is looking to expand its regional offerings with a focus on lucrative Southern markets, a top company official has said. Also Read - No More Killing Animals? Singapore Becomes First Country to Approve Sale of Lab-Grown Meat

“We have proved the sceptics wrong not just in Tamil Nadu but we also have a popular channel in Kannada and also in Telugu. We are now looking to expand the portfolio in different genres. Very soon you will see our entry into different genres in the Southern languages. We will enter the Malayalam market very soon,” ZEE MD and CEO Punit Goenka said. Also Read - Ex-Karnataka Minister Varthur Prakash Abducted, Later Released, Say Police Sources

He admitted that being late entrants in the South, they need to accumulate far more content. Also Read - Against All Odds: The Inspirational Journey of Karnataka’s First Trans-woman Doctor

Zee had launched a Tamil GEC– Zee Tamizh — in 2008 and is at the fourth place among the top five Tamil channels as per the latest BARC data.

The Subhash Chandra-promoted broadcaster has a bouquet of regional channels in Marathi, Bengali, Telugu, Kannada, Odiya and Tamil. Last year it acquired Bhojpuri channel Big Ganga from Anil Ambani-led Reliance Broadcast Networks.

As per a Ficci-KPMG report, four Southern markets accounted for nearly two-thirds of regional viewership in 2016. Telugu and Tamil channels had the highest viewership share at 23-25 per cent each in 2016, with Kannada and Malayalam enjoying 10-12 per cent and 6-8 per cent, respectively.

Advertising potential for the Southern market is around Rs 5,000 crore, with the Tamil market at Rs 1,800 crore, Telugu at around Rs 1,600 crore and Karnataka and Kerala at Rs 700-800 crore each, the report said.

Zee, which established its international presence in 1994, reaches 1.3 billion viewers globally spanning over 170 countries. Of this, 50 per cent are foreigners consuming Indian content.

The company said it would look at creating local content for the international markets but Indian content would continue to enjoy a lion’s share.

“We have 42 channels overseas today. As markets mature, we are looking at creating local content for those audiences. Till the Indian content works, we are not going to reinvent the wheel. But when we feel the need for creating global content, we will do it,” Zee International Broadcast Business chief executive Amit Goenka said.

“We started producing international content very recently. Currently, the entire audience consumes only Indian content. We offer content in nine foreign languages,” he said.

Speaking about the next 25 years, he said, “We’d need to create more local content but our belief at ZEE is that 80 per cent of content will always remain Indian for audience.” Zee launched its theatre vertical in late 2015 and Punit Goenka said the company wants to revive this entertainment form.

“It is our passion to revive the theatre. If we can take the talent to a global level like we took TV, then that would be our biggest contribution to this industry,” he said.

The media firm has taken plays to 11 cities in the country and also to Britain and Singapore, and has said it is looking at curating the best of Indian content for international markets.

“We are looking at creating IP (intellectual property) within ZEE for marquee events that we can host overseas. There is enough content available in the country to cater to both the diaspora as well as global audiences. I am sure we can curate shows for international audiences too,” Punit Goenka said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.