Zee Digital continues to spread its wings, far and wide. It has strengthened its presence across India reaching out to the vernacular markets as well. With the recent developments, they have carved a niche globally too and have established themselves rightly as a trusted source for Indophiles. Also Read - HiPi will provide creators with multiple avenues to earn from content creation: Rohit Chadda shares HiPi's success story, way forward
Recording a fierce growth from 2018 when Zee digital began its operations as a forward-looking arm of the Zee group to 300 million MAUs (Monthly Active Users) in 2021, Zee Digital has been raising high standards for the Digital Media industry and have managed to grasp a substantial hold in comparison to the co-existing media publishers and at the same time gained greater trust basis reliable delivery of news, real-time. A great leader can make the impossible possible. Mr. Rohit Chadda has definitely paved a path well synergised with his team and adapting to the new and evolving norms. With the launch of 31 websites, 20 brands, and 12 languages in such a short span of time, Zee’s strategies drove the nail right into the board. Also Read - ZEE Entertainment appoints Nitin Mittal as President – Technology & Data
Let’s look at how Rohit Chadda accomplished these feats: Also Read - 24Taas.com achieves 3rd position on Comscore; crosses 12 Million Unique Monthly Visitors
Analytics or creative ideation? What helped you reach the goal of 300 million users for Zee Digital in such a short time span?
It’s a great feat to achieve 4x growth in MAUs in just 2 years and crossing 310 million aggregate MAUs for the network. Analytics and creative ideation must go hand-in-hand to achieve the kind of growth that we have witnessed. During the past couple of years, our entire effort has been focused on catering to the 450+ million news & entertainment internet audience in India and the results are here for all to see. With a tech and data-first approach to content, we’ve worked on the digital transformation of all functions to become a digital-first organisation.
To take full advantage of this transformation, we had to extend this to the entire lifecycle of content i.e. from content creation to content consumption. Bringing data into each conversation helped us track day-wise and hour-wise performance for each of our brands and each of our content categories enabling our teams to understand what our consumers are looking for. Further, creating tech-enabled newsrooms to provide real-time insights, trends, and feedback to our content teams allowing them to go completely granular and analyze each piece of content and what we could have done better helped us fully harness the strength of our human capital and track ROI at a content level.
Which strategy works best when it comes to luring readers to your platform?
Keeping the readers’ needs first is the only way to lure readers to any platform. On the digital front, one needs to find any and every way to listen to what the user has to say, whether directly or indirectly through data. When you start creating your content strategy as per the users’ preferences and build your product strategy to enable easy discovery and consumption of that content, the growth will follow.
Mobile contributes to 95% of our users hence our entire product roadmap is focused on mobile-first to ensure the best experience on mobile devices. We launched native mobile apps for 4 of our major brands – our flagship digital brand India.com, our fast-growing national Hindi news brand Zee Hindustan, our #1 Bengali news brand Zee 24 Ghanta and #1 Hindi business news brand Zee Business making the content accessible to the end-users on the go. At the same time, performance, UI/UX and size improvements in the updates of existing WION and Zee News mobile apps helped them become the highest-rated news apps in the World and India respectively with user ratings of 4.9 and 4.7, respectively on the Google Play store.
Further, we did the largest PWA (Progressive Web App) launch for 13 of our national and regional news brands covering 9 languages to offer a seamless news consumption experience on the mobile web to cater to low-end smartphone users and users in low bandwidth areas. This technology deployment for the mobile web has shown tremendous growth in organic web traffic and we plan to extend it to all our brands. Even for India.com, we launched its new mobile site to provide a more immersive experience to users which resulted in tremendous growth for the brand in terms of MAUs.
The future of digital content lies in 3Vs – Video, Vernacular (Languages), and Voice and that’s what our focus has been. Bringing videos to the forefront of the product along with setting up a strong video infrastructure helped us grow from 200 million video views in FY19 to over 2.5 billion video views in FY21.
How lockdown helped in booming the digital platforms of Zee?
The lockdown resulted in an increase in content consumption across brands. It was the same for us. However, the difference between ZEE and other competitors is that while we have sustained our user growth even after the lockdown was over, most competitors went back to pre-lockdown numbers. In fact, during the lockdown, ZEE Digital became the second-largest digital media group in the country.
Which genre is being loved by the users the most – health, business, finance, Bollywood or regional?
Being COVID times, health grew very strongly as people want to learn how to keep healthy in these difficult times, business and finance also followed closely due to the high economic uncertainty in the environment. Bollywood and entertainment did see a challenge initially during the lockdown with a lot of movies postponing/canceling their theatrical release date, but the industry adapted and bounced back taking very strongly to OTT. Physical interactions turned into Zoom interviews which helped the genre bounce back.
However, the future of digital growth is regional. Vernacular content has been a strong focus area for us, and we shall continue to focus on it. In the past couple of years, we have launched 8 regional brands and 3 new regional languages – Odia, Punjabi, and Urdu on digital to penetrate these markets in depth.
Which Zee Digital entity has seen maximum growth this year?
While the network witnessed growth across the portfolio, the largest growth contributions came from flagship brands like India.com (11x growth), Zee News (3.4x growth), DNA (4.3x growth), BollywoodLife.com (5.2x), and WION (7.8x).
What are all the new initiatives we will be seeing from Zee Digital in 2021-22?
We plan to continue our strong focus on vernacular languages in India. We’ve launched digital-only news brands in Telegu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada to expand our reach in South India. Further our digital brands like India.com, BGR, Bollywood Life, and The Health Site shall also see the introduction of more languages to make their content available to a larger audience in the country.
Additionally, seeing the excellent growth of our international news brand WION, our flagship brands like Zee News, India.com and DNA shall extend their digital news coverage for key western markets which shall further boost our international revenues.
OTT platforms have become users’ no.1 choice these days. How is Zee Digital planning to compete with them?
During the 2020 lockdown, we launched OTT apps for Zee News, our flagship news brand to capitalize on the increased adoption of OTTs. Later, during the US presidential elections, we did a first-of-its-kind digital-first global launch of our international news channel WION making it available on 4 billion connected devices globally. The brand received tremendous response in the global markets and has seen 90% growth in users over the past 6 months. The growth and increment have been inspiring and is pushing the team every day to come up with incredible ideas to help users to receive easy access to our content.
With a stupendous response from the global and national market and a 90% growth in consumers in the past 6 months, the team at Zee groups continues to passionately pursue their goal to pave their way to the absolute zenith. Their motivation is the urge to create content that is easy to access and the comfort of getting bite-sized entertainment and information on the go.