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Genre costs in English Ent have gone up in the last 5 years: Aparna Bhosle

Zee Café has been strengthening its content line-up, aligning it with its refreshed brand positioning of ‘All eyes on new’, which came into effect a year ago in October 2016. The positioning has been inspired from the consumer insight that people today are constantly exploring and discovering. They are willing to carry change along with them to grow. They want to be bold and actively seek what is new and different. 

Zee Café recently partnered with BBC Worldwide to bring to India award winning premium British dramas under its programming block of BBC First. 

Further bolstering its viewership, Zee Café is bringing the scale of Hollywood on television with the launch of its new property – ‘Hollywood on Café’, which caters the consumers who demand a deeply immersive experience. Hollywood on Café brings the crème de la crème of Hollywood to indulge its viewers with a differentiated visual experience.  

Zee Café has garnered 221 Weekly Impressions (000s) sum as per BARC’s ratings for Week 40. The channel is placed third in the English Entertainment space behind Comedy Central and AXN. 

Aparna Bhosle, Business Cluster Head - Premium & FTA GEC channels - ‎Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), speaks to Adgully about the channel’s growth in the one year since it underwent a revamp, the content strategy, factors dictating growth of the English entertainment space in India, and much more. Excerpts: 

How has Zee Café’s performance been post the brand re-positioning? Could you also tell us about the growth in terms of channel share and viewership?
In the English entertainment genre, Zee Café has witnessed the highest viewership with a good reach in the metros beating competition with a share of 29 per cent YTD in this fiscal (BARC 15-40 AB, Megacities, Average Weekly GTVTs Market Share, Apr-Sept’17: Wk 14-39’17). The channel’s proposition is to bring content which is new to the Indian television keeping its promise of ‘All Eyes On New’. We have witnessed a good response from our viewers with strong GTVTs across all time bands. Our key strength has been a strong line-up of world class content and dynamic marketing campaigns. 

What is Zee Cafe’s weekend content strategy? We haven’t seen too much innovation in this space, besides offering binge-watching opportunities...
Our strategy has always been to bring the best of English entertainment to the Indian audience. Zee Café caters to a premium and relatively niche audience, hence there is no fixed format and we will continue to experiment with shows that fit the mindset of Indian audiences. Also, since this space offers a set number of shows, binge-watching over the weekend becomes easier as opposed to appointment-viewing. 

How is the content tie-up with BBC First panning out? How has it helped grow Zee Cafe’s viewership?
The response to BBC First has been overwhelming. We witnessed a high decibel launch as it was loved by the consumers. British dramas are growing all over the world and Indian viewers too are constantly on the look-out for new and different content. It gratified the voracious appetite of our viewers and garnered great response across mediums. 

In the week of its launch, our viewership increased by 600 per cent (from 4.76 to 33.74 GVTs) and the TSV of the time band doubled (from 3 minutes to 6.3 minutes). 

Please tell us about your latest property – Hollywood on Café? How are you marketing it?

Staying true to our promise of ‘All Eyes On New’, we are bringing the scale of Hollywood to Indian television with our new offering – Hollywood On Café. It will see some of the biggest names from Hollywood like Pierce Brosnan, Jude Law, James Franco, Idris Elba, JJ Abrams, Ridley Scott and Tom Hardy, among others, headlining 5 gripping new shows – ‘Taboo’, ‘The Son’, ‘The Young Pope’, ‘11.22.63’ and ‘Guerrilla’. All the shows are top rated dramas with an average IMDB rating of 7.5. With award-winning directors, producers, screenwriters and actors, each show pushes the boundaries with its avant-garde content and stellar performances. 

Hollywood On Café has a high impact campaign, designed to reach out to discerning millennials who demand scale and top quality in their content. We’re aiming to engage with these millennials with a holistic approach through TV, digital, radio, trade, OOH and print media with engaging content and striking visuals. Each medium has been explored keeping in mind the scale of shows and the unconventional storylines. 

With the growing clutter and competition in this space – which also includes English Movies and Infotainment channels vying for eyeballs – how is Zee Cafe strategising to remain relevant and garner top-of-mind recall?
Zee Café caters to a distinct set of viewers who are constantly exploring. We are offering a content bouquet for the ‘unsatiated’. The brand proposition – All eyes on New – was conceptualised to fortify the all new attitude, look and diversity of its content offering making it stand out from other channels. With a content spectrum spanning across cult comedies, superhero franchises and iconic shows, Zee Café aims to bring the best television viewing experiences to its audience. Zee Café has been designed to not just be a channel, but a platform that creates a holistic viewing experience.  

What is Zee Cafe’s strategy to expand its universe? What are the major challenges faced in this?
With a wide content spectrum, Zee Café has been consistently leading the genre, with unprecedented viewer faith over the years. We have been providing the best of American and British content for our viewers. With a property like Hollywood On Café, we are setting a benchmark with content of Hollywood standards. Though there is a speculation that the entry of global digital platforms may change the dynamics of English entertainment consumption, Zee Café is poised to go strong with curated content encompassing multiple genres right from comedies and drama to action and iconic shows. 

What are the factors dictating the growth of the English Entertainment space in India?
The English content consuming audience in India has evolved over the years. Viewers aren’t just looking towards film/TV shows from a light-hearted recreation point of view. Demand for content which are conversation starters has been on the rise. This genre in India has grown on a positive note over the last one year. As of today, approximately 401 million people in India consume English language content (Source: BARC, Week 40, 2017 - Universe, India). This is a clear indication that Indian viewers are becoming aware of world class quality, premium content not just through Hollywood films, but also international TV shows and series. 

How challenging is the content acquisition costs in the English Entertainment genre? How much have these costs gone up in the last five years?
The genre costs have gone up in the last 5 years. However, more and more independent studios are creating exceptional content. 

Why have we not seen too much of original content creation in English Entertainment channels?
The cost of production to create and maintain the premium quality of the shows is really high. The returns can be hard to recoup. 

How are you facing up to the growing challenge from OTT platforms? Is the English Entertainment genre beginning to lose its audience to the digital platforms?
There is no denying or overlooking the rise in the demand of the OTT platforms. So, there will be competition in both the digital and the broadcast space. The viewer will consume content as he/she seems to be fit. If TV continues to bring the latest and best, we will still continue to be relevant. We will, however, continue to capture the attention of our audiences through a distinct line-up of brilliant shows.

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