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Zee Classic makes way for Zee Bollywood

ZEEL has launched the new channel to put back the spotlight on Bollywood masala movies. The network is expected to launch more offerings across various segments in the next two quarters. The new channel has four launch partners – Nerolac, Lays, Cadbury and Nirma Salt

Catering to the need of putting together a destination for Bollywood movies, Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) has decided to launch Zee Bollywood, a new Hindi movie channel, replacing its existing Zee Classic. The new channel is expected to grow the network's pie by about 4-5% in the Hindi movie channel space.

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Currently, with seven channels (four pay SD channels, two HD and one FTA channels), the network claims to grab about 36% of the genre’s viewership, which is expected to reach 40-42% with Zee Bollywood.

On the advertising revenue side, the size of the genre is pegged at Rs 2500-3000 crore, of which Zee Cluster claims a 40% share. Ashish Sehgal, COO, Zee Unimedia, said, “Bollywood has huge market. We intend to significantly increase our share in the ad pie. It’s not just about the GRP game. Long ago, we had mentioned that our approach is to multiplex the offering to the consumer and we are moving towards that.”

Vijay Sanil, President, Sales, Zee Network, said, “The new channel will now cater to the die-hard Bollywood fan who is a loyalist of masala Bollywood movies. The strong brand proposition has helped us connect with some of the key like-minded brands across sectors garnering four channel partners even before the channel goes live. Currently we have Nerolac, Lays, Cadbury and Nirma Salt as our channel partners. The response has been extremely positive from our clients and such partnerships further validate our belief in our offering. We are hoping to drive synergies with more brands as we embark on this new journey.”

Launching on August 31, the channel is being marketed across the lengths and breadths of the country. The creative conceptualisation of the launch campaign has been done by Lowe Lintas, while Essence is the media agency on the same.

Ruchir Tiwari

About the expectation from the channel, Ruchir Tiwari, Business Head, Zee Hindi Movies Cluster, said, “Zee Bollywood should get about 9-10% of the total viewership pie. Zee Classic had 6-6.5%. The channel has very wide potential. There can be mere four films releasing of masala Bollywood category, annually. The yearning for these movies will only increase and I see huge growth for the channel. I won’t be surprised if this enters the top four in the genre.”

Speaking more about the why Zee Classic was suspended, Tiwari said, “We are using Classic’s licence to launch this, since we felt that the need to fill the need gap was urgent. We are going to apply for a fresh licence for Zee Classic and it will be launched in a new way. It will be a premium and niche, not a very ad-supported product. It will also have an on-demand version with all the DTH platforms. Classic has a very loyal audience. Till the time the new Classic comes about, the library will be available to some extent on Zee Cinema HD, Anmol Cinema and Zee5. It’s a matter of few months.”

The network also has a Zee Classic HD licence, but it will be used for some other “unique” offering. Zee Classic HD didn’t see the light of the day because not all the content of that channel is available in HD format or can be converted to HD.

Prathyusha Agarwal

Prathyusha Agarwal, CMO, ZEEL, said, “We are going to announce multiple new offerings, all in different categories. We have a number of licences, but we are picking on the post-potential growing needs. ZEEL is the leading portfolio in the Hindi news genre and we just want it to explode and become dominant leaders. Each channel has unique audiences.”

The Indian palate is spicy and ‘masaledaar’, which is evident in our preferences across food, conversations and movies too. Research shows that a majority of Indians (39%) love watching masala Bollywood movies that are truly entertaining. Further, various television channels are airing South-dubbed and Hollywood-dubbed movies that don’t appeal to the true-blue Bollywood fan. With a brand promise of ‘101% Shuddh Bollywood’, Zee Bollywood will showcase masala Bollywood movies.

Why no dubbed movies? Tiwari said, “They are good viewership attractors, but we realised in our research that people go to these movies because they are increasingly seeing a decline in the Bollywood masala movies. We want to bring them back to Bollywood by filling that void. Also, not all brands are happy associating with the South-dubbed movie titles.”

Keeping this in mind, Zee Bollywood has curated a roster of over 600 exclusive ‘Masalon se koot koot ke bhari filmein’ that are not only highly entertaining but also celebrate the larger-than-life colourful vibrant cinema.

Zee Cinema, the flagship Hindi movie channel of the network, also has a high dose of Bollywood movies. Speaking about the overlap of movies and library, Tiwari said, “While there will be initial overlap, eventually, the content gets more focussed. We are good at library management. &Pictures and Zee Cinema were sharpened gradually, while some of the films were shared initially. Now, both have their own domain and similarly, Zee Anmol Cinema. Premieres are more for monetisation. They will remain on Zee Cinema for a long time.”

The enthusiastically curated hand painted movie posters, the usage of dialoguebaazi, the explosion of colors, the poster colour design look replete with vibrant visual elements, the Golden Disco Ball representing the song and dance culture of Bollywood ingeniously integrated into the design, all of it oozes Shuddh Bollywood and celebrates Bollywood is its truest sense. The brand is built on the strongest pillars of entertainment such as romance, comedy, action and drama that appeal to the die-hard Bollywood fans.

With seven channels in the same armour, how big is the threat of cannibalising its own viewership? Tiwari doesn’t fear that. “Not all the 100% is going to come from my own channels. Even if there is 30% cannibalisation, I am okay with it. At least, the rest 70% of viewership is coming from outside, other channels and new audience. If we don’t look at it, someone else will cannibalise it. The flanker strategy is not new. We are now seeing third flankers, fourth flankers in the market. Regional channels are also doing flankers. In this category, there are tier I, II, III and even IV. There are 20 channels.”

Having scheduled seven movies per day, the various programming blocks include Mere Saturday-Sunday Aayenge (Saturday, Sunday 9pm), Subhah Ho Gayi Mamu (Monday to Friday 10:30am), Dopehar Ka Tadka (Monday to Friday 2pm), Chalti Hai Kya 9 se 12 (Monday to Friday  9pm), Raat Baaki (Monday to Friday 12 am) and Maa Kasam Sunday Hai (Sunday 10:30am, 2pm, 5pm).

Agarwal added, “Zee Bollywood is our tribute to Masala Bollywood movies that excite the common man. The brand promise of 101% Shuddh Bollywood was conceptualised with rooted strengths of timeless Bollywood movies, larger-than-life expressions and deadly dialogues. The channel’s look and communication has been created to pay homage to the principles of masala Bollywood with original, iconic and dynamic renditions that viewers will find unique. We got the paintings made by various artists. The whole philosophy of marketing this channel was to go larger than life. Marketing is a 360-degree strategy. Over 10 cities will have the outdoor splash. Digital will be big. We will have GIFs and other such innovations. We are expecting a lot of sharing and tagging to happen.”

Interestingly, Zee Bollywood was also the name of the network’s trade music channel launched in 1999, which is today a B2C channel called Zee ETC Bollywood.

Speaking about the threat from OTT, Agarwal said, “No OTT has the kind of library that we do. We have a 4500 movie library. It’s different in the form of seeking entertainment, than the effortless entertainment.”

Adding more, Tiwari said, “There are close to 200 million TV sets in the country, while the subscriber numbers are still not known clearly. For example, Parmanu was already there on digital, but the viewership it got on August 15 was huge. We are not seeing any clash as of now.”

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