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&TV set for launch with ‘Jashn Jeene Ka’ philosophy

The channel will launch with 4 fiction shows and its flagship property ‘India- Poochega- Sabse Shaana Kaun’, hosted by Shahrukh Khan

Sarmistha Neogy | Mumbai | January 22, 2015

(L-R) Rajesh Iyer, Business Head &TV, Shahrukh Khan, Puneet Goenka, CEO&MD, ZEEL at the launch of &TV (L-R) Rajesh Iyer, Business Head &TV, Shahrukh Khan, Puneet Goenka, CEO&MD, ZEEL at the launch of &TV

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) has announced the launch of its new Hindi General Entertainment Channel (GEC), &TV, under the ‘&’ bouquet and is expected to hit the TV screens this March with the philosophy of ‘Jashn Jeene Ka’. The channel will launch with three brand films which have been created by the agency called Infectious and the media agency is MEC of GroupM.

Commenting on the channel’s launch, Puneet Goenka, MD & CEO, ZEEL, said, “&TV will offer a more substantial viewing experience to an audience that is always seeking fresh and relevant content. The channel extends our Hindi entertainment portfolio under the ‘&’ bouquet and will add to the consolidation of our leading position in the entertainment industry. My view is that the audience today is getting divided and their mindset is changing. People are looking to experiment with different content and with the advent of digitisation; there will be fragmentation, so why not lead the fragmentation?”

&TV-LogoThe channel for the time being has announced the launch of four new fiction shows ‘Begusarai’-it is a story set in the hinterland of Bihar, ‘Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain’- is a rib tickling comedy, ‘Razia Sultan’ – an untold story of the 13th century and ‘Badi Devrani’- which brings out the essence of every relationships. The channel also has introduced its flagship property ‘India- Poochega- Sabse Shaana Kaun’; adapted from an international format ‘Who’s Asking’ by Israel based Armoza. The baton of this show has been handed over to the Bollywood superstar Sharukh Khan and it is produced by Siddhartha Basu of Big Synergy. It is a quiz show, where the common man will be both the ‘Asker’, as well as that of the ‘contestant’. It will also have 20 hours of original content on its channel. The channel has also acquired another international reality show ‘The Voice’, details of which, will be revealed by the channel, prior to its launch.

Commenting on the USP of the channel, Goenka pointed, “It is a contemporary new age channel, with a strong male POV.  We feel that the time is right for the launch of this new channel. There has been a 15-20% increase in the consumption of GEC, but the problem is that, our current tracking system can track only 60 million houses, while there are 160 million people who have a TV at their homes. So with the new rating system BARC, we expect the situation to get better. But, it will take time, because people will have to unlearn the old and learn the new.”

Rajesh Iyer, Business Head, &TV said, “& is a symbol of a revaluation and the channel has been conceptualised to depict change, stay contextual and contemporary. While the spirit of &TV is young, it is deep rooted in values. Our belief is good content is good business, so if distribution is strong enough, then people will consume it. We will be competing and catering to the HSM, just like any other mainline GEC.”

Speaking of competing against Zee TV, he added, “Yes we will be competing against each other, it is like when Serena and Venus Williams play, but when competing against other networks, we will play doubles.”

& will it work?

2014, was a year of new GEC launches, Multi-Screen Media (MSM) came out with its third GEC- Sony Pal, ZEEL launched Zindagi by airing content from Pakistan. Then in November, last year, India’s first channel based on Indian history, mythology and folklore Epic was also launched. So is there a space left in the viewer’s mind? BestMediaInfo asks media planners, how is the current Hindi GEC market and if &TV will manage to carve a space in the already cluttered audiences’ mind.

Anita Nayyar Anita Nayyar

Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group, India & South Asia, said, “ZEEL is a pioneer on the broadcast front and very experienced with content. They have a very well thought through strategy of investment in the channel content with the line-up of fiction, non-fiction shows including reality singing and quiz, roping in top production houses. Zindagi is a classic example of differentiated content to a mature audience and has been successful. Given the understanding and historic success with content &TV gives every indication of it being a success.”

She further added, “GEC is a highly competitive space. Networks are launching channels to gain market share, in an attempt not to lose viewers. The need to service the changing needs and consumption choices of their existing and new audiences launching new GEC in various genres is giving birth to the 3rd line GEC's. Zindagi and Epic have a more niche audience and are doing well in their genres. Sony Pal is more mass where most of the struggle is.”

Sundeep Nagpal Sundeep Nagpal

Sundeep Nagpal, Founder & Director, Stratagem Media said, “The truth is that, there is actually no space left in the viewer’s mind and also in his day. People are more than habituated with the older and the already established channels, so new channels in order to carve a space in this overcrowded market, need to create some real good quality programming, which is missing to some extent today. But on the other hand, when it makes no sense for a viewer to see so many new channel launches, it surely does from the business point of view.”

Sudha Natrajan Sudha Natrajan

Sharing views on the current Hindi GEC market, Raghav Subramanian and Sudha Natrajan, founders of TMC - The Media Consultants said, “GEC as a genre garners roughly 1/3rd of India’s TV viewership, however manages to eke out only 18% of share of spends; so from a advertising revenue standpoint there is scope for 1 or 2 more GEC channels from the stable of established networks to act as flanking brands by either splitting viewership within the genre or expand the GEC audience base.”

Raghav Subramaniam Raghav Subramaniam

According to them, very little is known about & TV’s content strategy right now but on the basis of  market information, the presentation and channel tone and identity is likely to be similar to &pictures which has a youthful appeal and focuses on newer movies relevant to younger audiences. Youth as an audience base is Zee TV’s strength in fact it has the highest skew to the 15-24 age groups among all GEC channels. Zee has also been traditionally strong in towns with lower pop strata, Maharashtra, SEC CDE audiences and LC1 towns. With this channel the network may try to target youth SEC AB in Mumbai, Delhi and other large towns where they have been comparatively weak from a historic perspective.

“If the youth centric strategy succeeds especially in Zee’s weaker geographies such as Mumbai and Delhi and among the youth in other large towns, the channel can aim at reaching 0.2-0.5% channel share at the end of 2015; considering that the network is planning to invest Rs. 1,000 crore on this channel in the next 2-3 years, this is achievable putting it ahead of Sony Pal and Zee Network’s Zindagi,” they added.

Nagpal pointed out that whether a channel will work or not, will take time to decide, because it is not easy to create differentiated content and get noticed amidst plenty in the market. To the question on how well these new channels fare in the non metro markets, he commented, “Other than the problem of distribution and carriage fee, these new channels appeal more in smaller towns, because in the metros there is enough of digital happening and it is already a very crowded market.”

Commenting on expectations from &TV, Subramanian and Natrajan explained, “The viewership in the GEC space is fragmented across key TG clusters. The new launches have not really taken off from a rating stand point; however the conversation and buzz value in social media around Zindagi and its differentiated programming is good. The key point is that viewers are not averse to trying new content which is evident in the initial performance in terms of rating for both Pal and Zindagi which augers well for & TV and other future launches in this genre.”

Citing some of the problems which &TV can face, they commented “The recent reports about the I & B ministry wanting to scrap the ad cap will not augur well for fresh launches as fight for advertising revenue will intensify and margins will be under pressure with potential increase in content acquisition costs. BARC coming in the 2nd half of the year may alter several paradigms in the TV Industry. The current mood in the Industry is that of cautious optimism. 0.05-0.09% channel share at the end of the initial 13 weeks should be a fair benchmark.”

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