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Zee Cafe’s new programming ‘BBC First’ to start with 11 shows

Starting June 26, the shows will go on for 12 weeks and are initially slotted at weekday 10 pm. Each show will be a weekly show. Zee Café has planned a robust promotional campaign that weaves these British associations with Indian cultural fabric to drive deeper experiences around the communication #TheBritishAreComing

(L-R) Punit Misra, Aparna Bhosle and Julia Keynon

Zee Café, the English entertainment channel of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), has partnered with BBC Worldwide to bring premium British dramas, under the brand BBC First. Starting June 26, Zee Café will host the BBC First content block with 11 brand new shows to air every weeknight at 10 pm. All these shows will be telecast in a weekly format and later, the channel will air these properties in binges on weekends.

Maruti Nexa has come on board as the lead sponsor for the property, while the channel is looking for more sponsors on this. The new line-up of shows includes War and Peace, Fleming: The Man who would be Bond, Class, SS-GB, Maigret, Doctor Foster, Top of the Lake, The Kettering Incident, New Blood, From Darkness and Thirteen.

Zee Café has planned a robust promotional campaign that weaves these British associations with Indian cultural fabric to drive deeper experiences around the communication #TheBritishAreComing.

Punit Misra, CEO, Domestic Broadcast Business, ZEEL pointed out how the English entertainment genre had a kind of imbalance in the content offerings. “American shows were dominating the English entertainment and we intended to bring British content, to give them another flavour. This will expand the consumption and it will be a win-win situation for all of us,” said Misra.

In the long run, the channel has plans to bring the next seasons on the channel around October and the network might also put this content on its OTT platform, OZEE after a few months. The BBC First block will, however, be available on the linear online platform, Ditto TV.

“It is a long-term partnership wherein we will bring different genres of shows on the channel. Worldwide, we have become a very impatient generation. Everyone wants to watch it now, know about it now. Hence, binges work better for some reason,” said Aparna Bhosle, Business Cluster Head, Premium and FTA GEC channels, ZEEL.

For a long time, all that people knew of English entertainment content was Friends, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Grey’s Anatomy, among a few others. While there were many shows being telecast then, the popular ones were handful. “The quality and variety is increasing because of competition and it is a good sign. Competition also helps in expanding the genre. The most important thing in the genre is to manage the FPC properly and schedule correctly,” said Bhosle.

The marketing will be mainly on digital and ZEEL’s own television network. “We will mostly be on our HD channels, since we believe that’s where our viewers will be,” added Bhosle.

Misra further added, “This rich catalogue of unforgettable dramas is in line with our brand promise of ‘All Eyes on New’ and will significantly enhance our channel portfolio. From edgy new perspectives to shows that immortalise classics, we believe that this block of BBC First will be irresistible to the discerning Indian viewer who values premium content,” he adds.

10 pm is the most important prime time slot for the English entertainment genre. Placing all the shows at such significant time slots shows the kind of confidence that the channel has on the new content.

“This is a curation of critically-acclaimed and award-winning original British drama, that will challenge perceptions though surprising storylines and unforgettable characters,” commented Julia Kenyon, Director, Global Brands and Content Marketing, BBC Worldwide. “BBC First has been very successful in countries where it has already launched across Australia, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. We look forward to connecting with Indian audiences who know and enjoy premium drama.”

The dramas that will premiere on Zee Café include ‘War and Peace’, the critically-acclaimed adaptation of the novel by Leo Tolstoy, which revolves around three young people who experience life, love and loss against the epic backdrop of Russia’s wars with Napoleon, ‘Fleming: The Man who would be Bond’, the action-packed drama that tells the real story of Ian Fleming the man who created James Bond, whose own life adventures were the inspiration for creating one of the most iconic spies in modern literature, ‘Class, the  Doctor Who spin off’ which revolves around the students of Coal Hill Academy who have to deal with the alien threats while trying to deal with their personal lives, ‘SS-GB’, the engrossing drama set in a 1941 alternative timeline, in which Nazi, Germany having  won the battle of Britain has now occupied United Kingdom; and the crime story starring Rowan Atkinson, Maigret that is set in 1950’s Paris where a serial killer is targeting women in the seedy district of Montmartre, among many others.

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