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BY Anjana Naskar

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Q] What impact did the COVID-19 pandemic have on the experiential industry?
There is no denying that pandemic did have a massive impact on the experiential industry and it indeed was one of the most challenging times just not for us at Zee Live but the industry at large. We were in touch with global promoters in the US, UK and Middle East and figured the standstill will step in and stay for a long time. The bright side of being part of a content tech platform is that it allowed us to adapt faster and move all live entertainment to Zee5 and Zee social platforms. We have been the earliest propagators of live entertainment streams and we moved ahead to make live original content through streams our core. We were slightly fortunate because the network strength helped us keep the momentum right - with Zee5 becoming the right kind of platform where we could stream our content and then the might of the channels came together to give us the additional mileage and visibility.

Q] Digital was already an emerging medium; the pandemic and consequential lockdown have also given it a further boost. How big is this shift from conventional to digital?
I have always emphasised about the importance of being ‘digitally-abled’ and this fact has been edified like never-before. It’s no longer an option- you either adapt to it or you perish - Technology has made it so much easier and faster. Content was never so easily accessible as it has been now. But at the same time, I am sure that once the vaccines are out, the on-ground shows will come back with a vengeance. From AW360 Worldwide, Bizabo to Epslon, research says that 83% of people believe experiences are core to one lifestyle and people prefer to engage with companies/ brands that offer personalized experiences. So, from open venues to sports arenas, 2021-22 will see a shift in capacities. If all goes well these venues will be operating from 30% to 100% capacity and the same gusto and spirit.

Q] How difficult is it to get brands on board for virtual events?
To be honest, right at the beginning of the lockdown, we did shows with no brand partners but slowly advertisers also started understanding that virtual events were the way forward. We also offered deeper integration to our brand partners, which enabled them to connect better with their TG. So I can safely say that if not completely we are largely there and we are extremely proud of the fact that the biggest advertisers of the country – the likes of Unilever, P&G, ITC, Skoda and Jeep have shown faith in what we do and have been engaging with us so that we create and deliver deep brand integrations to the audiences and the brand messaging is done in the most seamless way.

Q] How do you see the future of live events industry? How will offline events take place going forward?
I stand by every single word I have been saying since March 2020. Technology is the platform that will shape the present and future of Live Entertainment. When the Live Entertainment world opens with 100% capacities, patrons that have waited for so long will buy your tickets, but the new 14 to 16-year-old that stepped into the world of live stream and live entertainment will give you 100% additional revenue opportunities. These are new audiences that are comfortable with streams and virtual shows as long as there is quality. I can safely say that the promoters that have readied their teams and planned 2021 with an on-ground calendar and a live stream calendar will be the winners of the new normal.

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Tags : interview Anjana Naskar Swaroop Banerjee Zee Live live events