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Zindagi plans growth from original programming

MUMBAI: On 23 June 2014, Zindagi introduced a new form of storytelling into the television space by showcasing finite Pakistani shows. A year since then, the channel is stepping into original programming, in terms of both fiction and non-fiction.

Zindagi’s first original non-fiction show ‘Shukriya’ will feature real stories from across the world and is designed to appreciate the little things of life. The show will premiere on 9 August, airing every Sunday at 8 pm.

In line with the channel’s philosophy, the reality show will have 13 episodes featuring 13 stories initially. However, ‘Shukriya’ has been planned as a seasonal property and will have a second season later.

ZEEL chief business officer Sunil Buch said, “Our endeavour is to keep people engaged. We believe there is a need for varied content because people have loved our shows until now. Non-fiction is the way to go.”

Produced by Frames, ‘Shukriya’ will present heart-warming stories of gratitude, hosted by actor Gunjan Utreja.

Zindagi and FTA cluster business head Priyanka Datta stresses that the objective is to steer clear of the regular song-and-dance shows as they do not resonate with the philosophy of the channel.

“We launched Zindagi with a promise to give our viewers differentiated and unique content from across the globe and in this journey we pioneered a lot of things. We began our journey with handpicked stories from Pakistan, dramas that were finite in nature with fast-pace narratives, low melodrama, natural talent, original soundtracks, etc. Besides, the shows were shot in real locations. We brought back the era of telefilms on Indian television,” she said.

The channel’s original programming strategy is meant to ensure growth in the near future. In addition to non-fiction, Zindagi will soon launch fiction programming as well, production for which is presently underway.

“Fiction will take a while. We have identified concepts, our production is underway,” Datta revealed.

Does this mean the Pakistani content currently running on the channel will be replaced with original fiction content?

To this, Buch replied, “No, we won’t phase out the content from Pakistan. The proximity and overlap in terms of language and culture created a demand for Pakistani content. Now we will offer differentiated content, not necessarily Pakistani. We already have a large library of Pakistani content so that is not going away.”

Datta is quick to add that this is another leap by the channel and that the competition is not with the GECs.

“We have only 13- or 20-episode finite content. On Hindi GECs, there are non-fiction shows, movie premieres, etc. and in that hullabaloo, you can’t compare us. When we did our research prior to launch, we found that a section of viewers are tired of seeing these long sagas and want a change. Zindagi is thus a category creator in its own right,” she said.

‘Shukriya’ being its first original production, the channel has backed it with unique promotional strategies. The team has created three short films to bring alive the importance of saying ‘shukriya’ in various relationships and the films have been seeded across YouTube, Facebook and all Zindagi digital platforms. The first two videos have already grabbed over 3.6 lakh views, states the channel.

Zindagi has also associated with Snapdeal for a dedicated ‘Shukriya’ store on the Snapdeal website and app. This initiative is in celebration of ‘Friendship Day’ where the channel and Snapdeal give users discounted offers to buy special gifts for friends.

The channel also associated with Big FM to create a ‘Shukriya’ experience for their listeners where RJs say ‘shukriya’ to local unsung heroes in 24 of their stations across India. Some real-life stories shared by Big FM will be narrated by Gunjan and RJ Siddharth in a segment called ‘Keh do Shukriya’ on Zindagi.

Since the show is made of real people, over 50 housing colonies in Delhi are being tapped to celebrate ‘Shukriya Day’. Multiplex viewers have been targeted across over 400 screens for three weeks with movies like ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, ‘Drishyam’, and Mission Impossible 5′. This is alongside print and TV campaigns including leveraging the platforms of ZMCL to drive tune-ins in key markets.