IP&TV News talks MENA and OTT with Mukund Cairae (CEO, Middle East North Africa, Turkey & Pakistan, Zee). Cairae is a confirmed speaker for this year’s TV Connect MENA (2-3 November 2015 Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai).
IP&TV News: Hi Mukund. How has Zee’s presence in the Middle East developed since last year’s TV Connect MENA?
Mukund Cairae: We are opening up new markets in North Africa like Morocco and Egypt from a content perspective. Indian content on local channels has increased viewership for the channels and made entry inroads for us as content providers. Both female and male audiences are viewing the content and appreciating the art of Indian story telling with social dramas as well as grand production values. The family ethic which is the core part of all Indian series is one that finds resonance with the Arabic audiences.
And looking more broadly at the region, how much has MENA connected entertainment evolved over the last year?
Anytime viewing can now be called as “my time” viewing. Due to better connectivity, audiences are spending 30% more time on media (mainly digital) and this viewing is from a new viewer thereby increasing video consumption. It is a matter of time before which advertisers should be consolidating video views across mediums to use as an effective way to communicate their brands rather than just linear TV. However I believe that share of mind is going to be even more difficult to manage in the coming years. The minimum number of brands that one is exposed to in a day is over 3000 here. How does a brand stand out to create an impact in the mind of a consumer will now not just be a function of great content creativity or high frequency, but also of smart media planning and focussed consumer targeting. Add to that the diminished capacity of an individual to hold a coherent thought for more than 30 seconds at a time – maybe an exaggeration but attention deficit will be an interesting phenomenon for planners to study in the future.
Do you think the next twelve months will see a significant influx of new services into the region?
OTT services have seen launches in the last year or so and service improvisations in the same should be seen in the time ahead. A lot of VCs are backing such services in addition to existing content distribution platforms. The price war for the right content in the next year will be interesting to see especially since pay-TV is barely a single digit percentage in the region. PPV and SVOD would now be seen as P&L units in the distribution platforms as opposed to marketing or retention initiatives.
What new market trends excite you and present new opportunities to Zee?
At Zee we are extremely excited to be part of the digital wave of content consumption. Zee Alwan content on the largest VOD platform in the Middle East has increased lifetime views about 15 times already in the last 7 months and we are looking to close about 500 million views by the end of the year. This presents a growth opportunity to us that is essential to our presence in the region. Local content production is another vertical that we are interested in and are looking to co-produce Arabic content for the coming year.
You’ve been to TV Connect MENA before. What makes the event such an important date in the diary?
The timing of the event is unique indeed – at the end of the year. Participation in the event by broadcasters, content owners, aggregators and technology providers all under one roof make this an extremely valuable part of the media calendar.