Mr Karan Jaitapkar, Head of Business and Technology for ZEE’s newest VOD platform OZEE, yet another promising brand from ZEE, is set to ensure a great headstart for OZEE with his technical expertise and business acumen that attracts the best of technology partnerships. He has played an integral role in transforming the user relationship and technology business to a significant revenue driver for the ZEE Group.
He joined ZEE Entertainment Enterprise Ltd. (ZEEL) in 2013, post his stint at The Times of India (Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd.) to head project management and deployment of websites with video delivery, event based websites and mobile apps.
He was also in-charge for the website development of zliving.com OTT platform for the US audience as well as DishTV’s OTT platform, dishonline. He has developed and executed plans to increase page views, unique visitors and site ‘stickiness’ to encourage repeat usage. Under his guidance, India’s first OTT platform dittoTV (providing both live TV with 150 channels and video on demand) was designed and developed. He has played an integral role in transforming the user relationship and technology business to a significant revenue driver for the ZEE Group.
Karan shared his experience, views, thought and technical aspects that drives today’s most ambitious and futuristic medium and his plans for OZEE on an exclusive chat with tvnews4u.com during his recent visit to Chennai:
1) Brief us about ZDCL and its new VoD brand OZEE..?
Zee Digital Convergence Ltd. (ZDCL) was formulated with the sole idea of giving a digital strategy to ZEE, Earlier we were operating outside Zee Entertainment for most of our websites and Now, In order to have more focus and full strategy with long term plans, we wanted a company to oversee and structure the digital business model and ZDCL is here to play a major role in this area.
OZEE is our Video on Demand (VoD) platform, which will be carrying all the shows and programs aired on Zee Network channels, for the past two years we have been studying the online viewership and consumption pattern of digital audience by putting the shows on our websites like Zeetv.com and zee tamil.com immediately after the satellite telecast. Thus, Over a period of time we have accumulated eight million users in all our websites and we also found out that the digital viewers are basically impatient as they just wanted to click and play. With OZEE we are planning to consolidate the viewers from all our sites under a single brand digital platform and give them a much better content consumption experience.
We plan to strengthen our presence with strong technical back up and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Right now we have content from seven languages on OZEE and it will have shows from various Zee Group channels within 10 minutes of telecast. similarly, it will have movies which we intended to acquire and also those which are being produced by us. Videos which we produce in across Zee channels, Recipe Channel, Health Care and Travel related videos.
We will also be having Music which we entered recently with the launch of Zee Music , research shows that Music is one of the highly consumed genre in YouTube and suits the interest of the relevant audience of the platform.
2) OZEE is primarily targeting the age group of 18 to 24 years… Any specific strategy behind this..?
Our understanding on the behavior of the target audience under the age of 18 to 24 years is that they are impatient. They will not stick to you if you fail to match their expectations in all aspects.
we are trying to make sure that every user trying to play a video should be able to play it and experience it with whatever the available data speed whether they are in 2G,3G or 4G. OZEE can play video even in a bandwidth as low as 64kbps.
We are also concerned about our SEO ranking, if the user comes and fails to watch a video and hits a back button, our link won’t be ranking well and with the availability of pirates things will go for a toss. We are using adaptor streaming server technology that supports in low data connectivity also.
I myself being a technical guy, we have built an in-house technology to support the above features with a streaming support from Akamai.
3) OZEE assures availability of ZEE Group channels’ content with in 10 minutes of telecast… Won’t it affect the viewership of the respective channel..?
We have studied those aspects in the past two years and understood that in India the Digital and Television audience are different unlike other western markets. In our Country Television is still a growing medium, likewise Digital will also grow based on the broadband and 4G penetration.
In the past two years we didn’t witness any loss of viewership in Zee TV due to digital streaming of its shows and we are absolutely convinced that the 18 to 24 years audience prefer watching it as per their convenience, while others and family audience stick to their televisions.
Moreover, in India, the mobile internet connectivity needs to improve a lot and it will take years to match with the bandwidth offered by Mobile operators in western countries. So, I don’t see any immediate threat to Television Media from Digital VoD platforms.
4) Indian Market has already witnessed the launch of OTT platforms like hotstar, nextGTV, Hooq, Eros Now and Netflix… How different OZEE is going to be from the existing players..?
OZEE will own the world of (ZEE) entertainment. The platform will also showcase exclusive content, be it award shows, movie premieres or concerts – basically anything and everything to do with entertainment.
OZEE has the advantage of being the only platform which offers the shows from Zee Group channels in various languages free of cost. our shows available on other platforms are on pay wall and for audience outside, we are trying to build a brand and tell them that we too have choice of content on par with other competitor platform like hotstar.
Our shows are already ranking on top of the SEO list. To start with we are offering content from seven languages namely Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bangla and Odiya.
We also have a huge library of archival shows, which we are in the process of reviving and we are planning to list them on priority for next six months and we will be formulating our content acquisition strategy after that only.
OZEE is not like any other video on demand platform. We believe we are an all-encompassing social entertainment solution that every individual can leverage. They can seek their special dose of entertainment at their convenience and enjoy, share and celebrate at their own pace.
5) Will you be offering Original digital content similar to other OTT platforms in India..?
We do have plans of offering few original content to meet the demands of our Target audience. One among them is a Music reality show “Life is Music” with real instrument guys, which will have only music without voice.
Then, we have Chords of Change, it a music with travel show. It involves various types of music that people were using to mark their protest against the social injustice. It is for a different kind of users with a social thoughts and life style mix.
Both the shows are related to music because music sells well with our audience and we also wish to look at other genres in future depending up on the requirement of the audience.
6) Will you be acquiring Non Zee Network contents for OZEE from markets where you don’t have the presence of Zee Group Channels…?
We have plans to look in to those markets where our libraries are not enough to feed the audience. Especially in regional language markets we have to look in to such options in-order to improve the user base.
Initially, we are in the process of exploring our own libraries and we will be deciding on our acquisition plans after six months.
7) There is a paradigm shift in the viewing trends from appointment viewing to Apne Pace Ki Zindagi… When do you expect the volume of Digital audience to grow on par with TV audience..?
I expect the market to witness some decent conversions three years down the line. It basically depends on the improvement in internet connectivity.
India is one among the Asian countries that has very low mobile internet speed. So, the growth of the digital audience is directly proportionate to the mobile internet speed. Presently, it is not supportive enough for a buffer free video content thus affecting the video watching experience. We hope that with the rollout and expansion of 4G network across the country by various mobile operators, there will be considerable amount of increase in consumption of digital content.
Right now, there are 8 million digital users and we are hoping to attract them from other platforms with our quality content and outstanding technology. The future of this medium is very positive. While we are basically social with habit of watching TV together as a family, however the younger generation are willing to consume it at their convenience and that will be a driving point for the future growth of digital platforms.
8) What is your Monetization plans for OZEE…, will you consider going with Freemium model in future..?
OZEE is absolutely a free of cost model and we plan to monetize from advertisement revenues only. This platform was designed with the concept of free model only because you need create content specifically to meet the expectations of audience in paid wall similar to Netflix in US which created shows like Game of Throne that attracted separate audience. If at all any such need arises will be launching a new platform and create specific content for that platform rather than converting this in to a paid medium.
9) Where would you like to see OZEE down the line five years…?
We are not ambitious, being ambitious is good but putting target to our ambition limits our aspiration, Internet is exponential, nobody expected the Internet users to go up to 100 million and right now, in India there are 8 million the digital audience within two years.
We still hope to clock 4 million viewers at the initial stage and hope to take this to 12 to 13 million in next five years.
10) Will you be aligning with Independent Broadcasters for content syndication partnership in those markets, where Zee Channels have limited presence..?
We will be considering it based on the need, right now we are focusing on reviving our library. The decision on new acquisitions will be done after six months of monitoring the consumption pattern and demand from the audience.
According to us, It makes sense to acquire content based on the audience demand so that it will be effectively consumed by the audience. Hence, we will definitely explore all these options in future.
11) Do you have plans for having any live shows..?
We are thinking of adding some News and related content on OZEE, News and Current affairs also attracts digital audience as they want to update on the go. Moreover, News doesn’t have any much of content value after the moment of occurrence. So, we are planning to rope in few in this segment.
12) Could you tell us some special features in OZEE Mobile app….?
We have a special feature called Follow the shows on OZEE Mobile App which reminds the user whenever their favourite show is available on OZEE. This means, for example, if a user is regularly watching a particular TV show on OZEE, then our app makes note of it and send them an alert when the new episode of the show gets uploaded on OZEE.
We have structured this feature carefully, in such a way that it will not disturb the user with too many reminders and unwanted alerts, rather we limit it up to their favourite shows alone.
With this feature we will be able to retain the new visitors, building the unique visitors and site ‘stickiness’ and encourage repeat usage.
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Karan holds a Master’s in Business Administration (IT) from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. With an overall experience of 15 years, his expertise lies in SEO management, technology identification and usability, user engagement, ideation, requirements gathering/analysis, project management and organisation strategy.
In his free time, Karan loves to experiment with new technology and coding. He is also a Sci-Fi buff.