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Essel Group’s new battery of factual entertainment channels

MUMBAI: Subhash Chandra-promoted Essel Group has marked a new beginning in its media journey with its new food and lifestyle channel Living Foodz, which will launch on 11 September.

The new channel is being launched by Essel’s subsidiary Living Entertainment and not under ZEEL, which houses the broadcast business of the group.

ZEEL’s food channel Zee Khana Khazana will be shut down the day Living Foodz is launched. In a nutshell, ZEEL will shut Zee Khana Khazana to make way for Living Foodz.

Living Entertainment in India will be an extension of the group’s Living network, which owns and operates a health and lifestyle channel called Zee Living in international markets. It will have a separate P&L and will operate these channels independently.

“It (Living Foodz) is a new launch. It will not replace the old channel (Zee Khana Khazana). The older channel will cease to exist. It will shut down the day this new channel comes into being. A transition is taking place if you visit the channel,” Zee Living India APAC CEO Piyush Sharma clarified.

Queried about the arrangement with ZEEL, Sharma said: “ZEEL is in a position to offer certain kinds of benefits in terms of audience understanding and in terms of cracking certain other aspects of the business, which is where both are collaborating.”

He also asserted that Living Entertainment will look to create everything independently as far the new channel is concerned, but it will “benefit from wisdom which already exists with ZEEL”.

(L to R - Rajiv Kheror, Piyush Sharma, Amit Nair

(L to R – Punit Goenka, Subhash Chandra, Rajiv Kheror, Piyush Sharma and Amit Nair

Besides Living Foodz, the company will launch three more channels, namely Living Rootz, Living Homez and Living Travelz. Zee Living, which was first launched in the US in 2007, will also be brought to India.

Zee Living will mark its entry in the Indian market in the first quarter of the next calendar year, Sharma informed.

The other three channels will be launched over the next 18 months. “We are looking to launch one after the other, maybe a channel after about every six months,” he added.

All the channels will have a strong international focus.

Living Foodz will have a business model that will manifest itself across platforms including TV, social, mobile and activation platforms.

Sharma said that the channel will be launched in 25 countries within one year of its launch in India.

ZEEL MD and CEO Punit Goenka said that Living Foodz will break-even in the first year itself. “Living Foodz will be profitable in the first year itself. The kind of distribution deals we have signed, it will be a profitable channel from day one,” he said.

An online destination LivingFoodz.com will be launched in next two months while the mobile app will be launched in six months from now.

Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra expects the new business to rake in revenues of Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) annually in next four to five years.

“The company (Living Network) that owns this (Living Foodz) will have roughly about Rs 80 crore (Rs 800 milion) of revenue from international markets and in next 6-8 months Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million) from India so it will cross Rs 100 crore revenue in next 12 months. I would think that this business would be Rs 1,000 crore in next 4-5 years annually,” he stated.

Content plan

Living Foodz head Amit Nair said that 80–85 per cent content will be produced inhouse while 15–20 per cent will be acquired. The content will be produced in high definition (HD).

Some of the shows include Food Xpress, Chef on Wheels, Vickypedia, The Great Indian Rasoi, Pickle Nation, Good Food America, and Peggy’s Kitchen Cures.

The channel has identified two time bands, morning and evening. “We are looking at afternoon and evening time bands. We have broken it up into names also. The afternoon is called Goldmay time and evening is called Sundown special. So Sundown special will have lifestyle programming and also few bits of food programme,” Nair stated.

The channel will have celebrity chefs and food personalities like Ranveer Brar, Gautam Mehrishi, Rocky & Mayur, Vicky Ratnani, Kunal Kapur and Rakhee Vaswani through their different shows.

Target audience

Living Foodz is targeted at Sec A 25–44 males and females. The target market for the channel is Mumbai and Delhi besides metros and Tier I cities.

“It is targeted at a niche segment but food is a universal subject. Our core TG is Sec A 25–44 males and females. We believe that this will be a much bigger canvas,” he said.

Dual feed in Hindi and English

The channel will be available on pan-India basis in dual feed, Hindi and English. There are plans to offer more language feeds going forward.

“We wanted to offer channels in multiple feeds. To start off, we are offering in Hindi and English. We are looking at other languages but that will take about 6–12 months,” Nair said.

The original content is being shot in Hindi, but it will also be available in English for the South markets.

Distribution

Priced at Rs 30, the foodtainment channel will be available on all direct-to-home (DTH) platforms like Dish TV, Tata Sky, Airtel, Videocon d2h and all other leading digital cable networks.

The channel will be distributed by its ZEEL’s distribution arm, Taj Television.

According to Nair, the channel will have an HD feed in the next year or so.

The company has earmarked Rs 15 crore (Rs 150 million) for marketing and promotions. It has identified 250+ advertisers from various categories across food and lifestyle segment.

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