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Zindagi to be the first all-India Hindi GEC: Punit Goenka
MUMBAI: Armed with a marketing budget of Rs 1 billion, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) is seeking to aggregate audiences through its upcoming Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC), the third in its bouquet.
ZEEL will launch the channel on 23 June, across India, and not just in the Hindi-speaking markets (HSM). This is because the company believes that the content of Zindagi is suited for ‘progressive mindsets’ cutting across markets.
In March, TelevisionPost.com had first reported that ZEEL was gearing up to launch Zindagi within three months with content acquired from Pakistan.
Readers of TelevisionPost.com were also first to know that ZEEL was to shut down ETC Punjabi on 3o April and replace it with Zindagi.
Zindagi will be the third Hindi GEC from the company after flagship channel Zee TV and free-to-air (FTA) channel Zee Anmol. ZEEL also runs repeat channels like 9X and Zee Smiles.
ZEEL MD & CEO Punit Goenka stressed that the company is out to create a new category with Zindagi. The channel will mostly feature syndicated content acquired from Pakistan. “We are starting off with acquired content, largely from Pakistan. We are also immediately getting into production, both in India and in Pakistan. So there will be a mix,” Goenka said.
He added that ZEEL has also tested concepts and ideas from markets like Egypt, Turkey and Latin America, which it will borrow or buy for Zindagi.
The channel launch will be supported by a big-bang marketing push, spanning across print, electronic and digital media. In fact, the promotions have already started on 5 May. “Like any other big GEC, we have a marketing budget of Rs 80–100 crore (Rs 800 million–Rs 1 billion) for the channel,” Goenka said.
Sporting the tagline ‘Jode Dilon Ko’, the channel claims to showcase handpicked stories with universal themes by acclaimed writers.
The programming will be very different from the existing Hindi GECs. The channel will have only fiction content, with relevance to India, dealing with romance, love and family drama.
The shows are either running or have ran within the last 2–3 years, said Goenka.
The channel will start with four shows, with mostly one-hour format and possibly also weeklies. “We will start with four shows, which will give us almost four hours of content a day. It will expand over a period of time. The shows will be predominantly hourly,” Goenka said.
Talking about the content and TG, he said that Zindagi will be the first all-India Hindi GEC. “We don’t call it TG; we call it a mindset. And our core mindset is progressive. It’s about women who are balancing work and family. She will be the core of the audience of this channel,” he added.
When asked about the need for launching a separate channel instead of creating a band for such content, Goenka explained that the aim is to chase a viewer of a different mindset with distinct identity and flavour. “Currently, the Zee TV viewer is of a mindset that we define as traditional. Having a band for such stories would be like mixing Chinese cuisine with Indian. Here, we are trying to bring alive a new category, which is as of now non-existent in Indian TV space. So it required a full-fledged effort,” he said.
He added that ZEEL has laid good foundation for the channel with research and content selection.
Meanwhile, asked if the influence of Urdu on the language might be a deterrent for viewers, Goenka said that as per their research, viewers have appreciated it. “Our respondents have actually liked and appreciated the language. It’s a USP of the channel, which we think will work more in our favour,” he added.
Exploring different genres, the channel will also have telefilms centred on its theme – ‘Jode Dilon Ko’.
Zindagi is priced Rs 25.81, and ZEEL is looking to give a concerted push to the distribution of the channel across India. It also plans to go to some overseas markets in future.
“We are targeting at upwards of 95 per cent reach on Day 1 of the launch. It will be available across cable and DTH. We will also take the channel to international countries eventually for the NRI or South Asian audiences,” Goenka said.
He added that ZEEL has taken the rights to shows for international markets also, and while some of the content may have been seen on other channels, ‘the best of all the content’ will be available on Zindagi only. “Secondly, internationally also it is just shown on Pakistani channels, so there might be a great number of Indian audiences who have not seen this content,” Goenka said.
Designed for classes
Goenka shared that the channel is designed for the classes and not masses. “As per our research, this class audience base, over the years, has grown to be a critical mass today and there is a need for a specific product for them,” Goenka said.
He added the Zindagi will not compete with Star Plus or Zee TV. “We will keep the focus on the class segment and are not looking to compete with other Hindi GECs,” Goenka said.
Explaining further, he said that in earlier times shows were targeted at classes only as masses didn’t have TV sets. “Even in the ’90s, the shows which Zee TV aired were produced keeping in mind a small audience and not the masses. Today, Zee TV has to attract the masses. And so we needed another product to cater to this affluent class.”
He agreed that ZEEL is following the strategy of fragmentation. “Rather than being fragmented, we will go and fragment,” Goenka added.
The company has appointed a completely new team for the channel, starting from business head to the programming head. Priyanka Dutta has joined as business head, while Vanita Jain is the programming head. Marketing is headed by Sumona Roy Sen. Rahul Sharma is heading ad sales for the channel.
Shailja Kejriwal, who looks after special projects at ZEE, has been involved in selecting the content.
“We are chasing a completely new mindset so it’s logical to get a team with a new mindset,” Goenka added.