Zee Entertainment Aims for Over 80% Prime-Time TV Viewership in Telugu Market

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd is targeting a dominant position with over 80% prime-time television viewership in the Telugu market, making the southern territory its fastest-growing cluster within the television business, according to a senior company executive. Currently holding a 17% market share in the south, the media and entertainment company operates 14 channels across Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam regions. Post-COVID, Zee Entertainment decided to focus on more positive, women-centric stories.

Siju Prabhakaran, Chief Cluster Officer – Zee South, highlighted the popularity of content in southern markets and emphasized the company’s efforts to align its content with viewer preferences over the past 18 years. Despite improvements in digital infrastructure and high mobile phone and internet penetration in the region, Zee Entertainment believes that television will remain the primary source of entertainment.


Prabhakaran anticipates that the merged Zee-Sony entity, with a merger deadline of December 21, could secure an 80% plus prime-time viewership share in the Telugu market, potentially having 6-7 shows in the top 10. This prospect is seen as positive for advertisers, particularly FMCG companies targeting Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

With the emergence of retail, e-commerce, and banking categories in the south, combined with the presence of local brands, Zee Entertainment sees television as providing effective reach at the right cost, asserting its continued relevance. Prabhakaran acknowledged that while the business may not grow at the same rate as in the past, it will maintain a steady pace.

Concrete themes are reportedly emerging in the South Indian TV market, such as increased male viewership post-COVID and a demand for positive stories and stronger female characters. Zee Telugu has experienced a 38% growth in prime-time viewership in the year leading up to October 2023.

Key shows like “Trinayani,” centered around a woman with the ability to predict the future, and “Prema Entha Madhuram,” a love story between a middle-aged businessman and a young woman, have achieved high television rating points. Zee Telugu, ranking second in the market, holds a 33% share, while Zee Tamil and Zee Keralam have also achieved significant market shares.

Prabhakaran highlighted the advantages of cross-pollination within the Zee network, citing the adaptation of “Trinayani” from a Bengali series aired on Zee Bangla.

While the growth of digital media is acknowledged, Zee sees opportunities in streaming catch-up television content online. Prabhakaran noted the convenience provided by digital platforms and the shift from the “second television set phenomenon” to increased consumption on connected TV sets. Although Zee has introduced web originals in Tamil and Telugu, Prabhakaran believes it’s still early days for the southern OTT market, expecting significant growth in the coming years.

In a related development, hurdles are reportedly being faced in finalizing the proposed merger between Sony Pictures Networks India and Zee Entertainment Enterprises due to a deadlock over leadership arrangements for the $10 billion merged entity.

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