ZEE English cluster of channels grew by 75% during the lockdown: Kartik Mahadev

Zee Café’s dance reality show ‘Dance With Me’ has been gaining traction with the audiences across India – both the metros and Tier 2 and 3 markets. Season 1 of ‘Dance With Me’ garnered 23 million+ cumulative reach across Zee Café and Zee TV. The show’s distinctive format entailed fun hook step challenges thrown by the celebrity dance experts received over 8.7 million impressions on the challenge.

Season 2 of ‘Dance With Me’ kicked off on a high note on August 22, 2021, with sisters Shakti and Mukti Mohan returning as the show’s hosts. This season will feature 50 performances and is adopting an interactive format, combining the reach of broadcast and social.

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In an exclusive interview with Adgully, Kartik Mahadev, Business Head, Premium Channels, ZEEL, speaks about the viewership and traction gained by ‘Dance With Me’ in Season 1, the marketing strategy for Season 2, strong advertiser interest for the show, growth of ZEE’s English cluster and more. 

What was the reaction to ‘Dance With Me’ Season 1? What kind of viewership did it garner?

‘Dance With Me’ Season 1 met with an overwhelming response from both consumers as well as sponsors. With a whopping 23 million+ cumulative reach across Zee Café and Zee TV, the unique dance reality show offered enthusiasts a chance to learn a new hook step every week from Shakti and Mukti Mohan. What stood out was the interactive experience that the weekly #HookStepChallenge delivered to the Café viewers and received over 8.7 million impressions on digital platforms. It was heartening to see that ‘Dance With Me’ ranked amongst the Top 2 Top Of Mind dance reality shows amongst the discerning metro audience.

What can the audience look forward to in the second season of ‘Dance With Me’? What is unique about Season 2? Could you share some insights on the format and theme for the show for this season? The show has been restricted to 10 episodes. What’s the reason behind this?

Unlike any other dance reality show, ‘Dance With Me’ has a differentiated philosophy, where it celebrates dance forms, brings the viewer closer to the dance experience, offers user interactivity, thereby making the fan an integral part of the show. This season, the show promises 50 memorable performances and 10 winners. This sets it apart from other dance-based competition formats. Every show will feel like a finale episode. ‘Dance With Me’ S2 brings 50 performers on one stage across the breadth of the show, with each performance delivering that one special dance style. Each episode is designed around an interesting theme. What’s more is that since each performer gets a chance to present only one performance, they will put their best work on it, a craft or skill that they have.

Both Shakti and Mukti are dancers and are seen as not just experts, but individuals who are building the dance culture in the country. What really piques interest in the audience is their unmatched chemistry, the sibling banter and the uncanny mix of pure dance energy and moments of entertaining irreverence.

Their perspective to dance and the promise of an exciting dance format where every performance is next level is captured in the campaign #DanceLevelWHOA. The high-energy campaign film is a celebration of extraordinary dance performances set to the signature ‘Dance With Me’ track composed by Mayur Jumani, where we see Shakti and Mukti Mohan performing the hook step.

We will further continue to engage with dance enthusiasts via weekly hook step challenges via Instagram Reels. The same will be promoted on-air and heavily amplified across social media.

Please tell us about the distribution and marketing strategy for ‘Dance With Me Season 2’.

Dance is universal and knows no language. In the hyper-connected world, we live in, content with an aspirational value cut across age-groups, regions and languages in India. Be it global dance trends like Shuffle, contemporary dance styles or contrasting dance fusion involving a confluence of Indian traditional folk with the Hawaiian Hula Hoop; dance has a language of its own and knows no boundaries. Today, it isn’t just for the English-speaking audiences living in metros, as we see fans spread across the many Bharats with the same level of passion and connectedness. Truly tapping into this passion and enthusiasm for dance, we are delighted to present ‘Dance With Me’ across 13 ZEE channels, thus enabling a larger pool of enthusiasts to spend we-time with unique performances.

How has the advertiser interest been around the show? Who are the sponsors onboard?

‘Dance With Me’ Season 2 has seen great sponsor interest from categories like FMCG, Auto, Consumer Durables among others. The deep integrations in the show offer great value to brand partners and it is gratifying to have brands like L’Oréal Paris, Jeevansaathi.com and Yamaha Fascino 124Fi return as sponsors for the second season. In addition, this season is Co-powered by Cetaphil Bright Healthy Radiance Range, Lifebuoy along with L'Oréal Paris Total Repair 5 and Special partners Prestige Svachh Pressure Cooker along with Jeevansaathi.com and Yamaha Fascino 125Fi Hybrid.

How does Zee Café’s original content slate look like for the second half of 2021? What new shows is the channel launching – Indian Originals and International shows?

With 20 exciting years of our international library featuring the latest and iconic shows, we have created countless we-time moments for our discerning viewers. Going forward, regional markets undoubtedly are set to be the driver for growth for English entertainment. There is a whole set of audience moving from regional to English content as they become more comfortable with English as a professional, conversational language. Thus, alongside our finest international content, our endeavour is to equally build a formidable original content slate that captures aspirations of our audience and promises to entertain.

Keeping this in mind, we launched ‘Dance With Me’, which was a unique dance show format that promised entertainment and interactivity. The show delivered value to our brand partners through customised solutions and deep integrations and met with great sponsor interest. Customer centricity being at the core of the brand’s design thinking, Zee Café’s originals have always tapped into themes that are trending, be it dance or food. As we look to build more original content, we realised there is a gap when it comes to homegrown cooking competition shows and thus, the inception of ‘Chef Vs Fridge’. Moreover, reality as a genre appeals to the family viewing audience and with ‘Dance With Me’ Season 2 airing across the ZEE network, we are certain the show will resonate with viewers spread across many Bharats. In the second half, we look to continue to delight our discerning audiences with newer iconic international content as well as homegrown shows in the pipeline.

What are your observations on the English Entertainment genre during the pandemic period – in terms of content, viewership, advertiser interest and growth/ degrowth?

During the lockdown, we saw significant growth in TV viewership, led by more walk-ins as well as more time spent on television. The ZEE English cluster of channels grew by 75% during the lockdown (as per BARC, NCCS AB 15-40, Mega Cities, Pre-lockdown, WK 42 '19-Wk 11'20 & Post-Lockdown WK 12 '20-Wk 34'20). This, given the context of the lockdown, tells us that the audience finds content on television compelling and comforting.

English entertainment (Movies + GEC) on Television caters to 154 million+ viewers (as per BARC, 2+, India U + R, Wk 1 '21- Wk32'21, English Movies + Eng GEC + Eng Premium Movies). The lockdown has showed us that the viewers choose to watch television for the curated content experience it provides, to not just individuals but the entire family, and English entertainment (Movies + GEC) viewership grew by 56% as compared to the previous year (As per BARC, NCCS AB 15-40, Mega Cities, WK 42'19-Wk 11'20 & WK 12'20-Wk 34'20).

We at Zee English Cluster were early to spot the trend and introduced tactical changes in our programming with specially curated properties to suit entertainment needs of our subscriber base. The steady subscriber base is testimony to the strength of our curated offerings, be it light-hearted and locally nuanced content, drama, sitcoms and reality in Zee Café or superhero, action and adventure on &flix.

(Edited and Additional Inputs by Shanta Saikia.)


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