Zee Yuva'll be one of our most digitally-active channels: Bavesh Janavlekar

Zee Entertainment Enterprises is further fortifying its presence in the Maharashtra market with the launch of Zee Yuva channel. The group already has Marathi GE channel Zee Marathi. Zee Yuva is targeted at the youth TG and is slated to go on air from August 22, 2016.

Keeping its youth TG in mind, the channel has already embarked on a digital campaign and its garnering strong interest in social media. According to information shared by Zee Yuva, the channel registered 28.6 million impressions in a day on Twitter and a reach of 50 lakh in a day.

In conversation with AdGully, Bavesh Janavlekar, Business Head, Zee Yuva and Zee Talkies, speaks at length about the business and content strategy for the new channel, tapping the youth TG and more. Excerpts:

How is the tagline – ‘Nave Parva...Yuva Sarva’ – going to reflect in Zee Yuva’s channel strategy and content?
We have adopted the tagline: ‘Nave Parva...Yuva Sarva’ for Zee Yuva. This is a new era where everybody is Yuva. More than anything else, Zee Yuva is about a mindset. So it is more about youthfulness and living the life freely. Thus, Yuva is not an age, it is youthfulness. When it comes to the content strategy, in the last 3-4 years, you would have heard a lot about Marathi films, such as ‘Balak Palak’, ‘Lai Bhaari’, ‘Sairat’ and how they have resonated with the youth. Though you would see a lot of variety at the youthful level, there is not much opportunity within the Marathi television space, with the GECs primarily catering to women. There was a limitation of content and subjects in the regional space, which we thought we could fill, considering the fact that all of India is young and Maharashtra is young. So with the GECs having a 40+ queue, we intend to have a reverse key on that and that is going to be the primary audience.

In terms of content, we would not be able to do the way GECs do. We plan to have light-hearted, tension-free, very refreshing content, which will appeal to anyone. All the protagonists will be youngsters, young adults, which should appeal to everyone because the virtual handle is universal. So in terms of references we are kind of talking about PG Woodhouse kind of treatment, the films of Hrishikesh Mukhrejee and Basu Bhattacharya. So that is going to be the overall texture of the programming.

More of a positive imagery so to say?
Yes, that’s a very nice word. It is going to be positive.

Going further with the content, what kind of break-up have you planned for Zee Yuva?
We are starting with fiction shows. We have a weekend show. But when it comes to reality, non-fiction and talent hunt, things like that, we have staggered that. We have left that for the future. We are not launching it right now. We want to stabilise what we are offering and we are slowly and steadily moving forward. When it comes to current break-ups, we will have a fiction show, which is a weekend show, then there is music and movies as well. We have daily movies and probably have Hollywood content as well, and there will be music bands. In the morning, we will have back-to-back music, which will be more of an interactive show with the audiences, an engaging show with the TG. This channel will be a platform for Maharashtra’s youth and showcase issues and topics that reflect Maharashtra’s culture and all that is relevant to the Maharashtrians.

When you talk about Hollywood content, will it be dubbed in Marathi or will it be in English?
This is an experimental thought. With the spread of digital, a lot of international content is getting accessed by the youngsters in even the remotest parts. So they know what is happening. Good content presented in a real language should have an appeal. So we had this idea of experimentation and we tend to do that with Zee Yuva as well.

When it comes to channel market share and spends in the Maharashtra market, you already have Zee Marathi and Zee Talkies which are strong players there. As per latest BARC figures, Zee Marathi is No. 1 and Zee Talkies is at No. 3. So where do you see Zee Yuva making a place for itself in that market?
Over a period of time, we aim to be among the top 3 channels of Maharashtra. Favouring the general content space, we intend to be among the top 3 place. If the stats are right, we believe that population wise we are an young country and hence a younger state. If the insight is right – that everybody wants to be young and prolong that youthfulness – then this particular proposition should work for us being amongst the top 3 channels.

What are you plans regarding promoting the channel and creating awareness about it?
We already rolled out a digital campaign last week. We also trended on Twitter, reaching 28.6 million impressions in a day. The contest that we have been running has got over 5,000 entries. So on digital we are getting a lot of traction. The Facebook page has almost crossed 50,000 within 3-4 days. We will be rolling out the television campaign closer to the launch. The network promotions will be starting soon and accelerate towards the date of the launch.

Have you got any creative agency onboard to handle the campaign or it is been done in-house?
We have Think Why Not as our creative agency on-board.

So are they also handling the other Marathi channels in Zee’s table or it is only Zee Yuva?
Right now they are only handling Zee Yuva.

What exactly is the channel ideology of Zee Yuva all about?
The channel will basically represent the youthful spirit, living it out and living deeply will be an important dimension, which should be interpreted within the Marathi context. So, yes will there will be aspirations, there will be dreams and hopes, and all this will be grounded in the Marathi thing. Somewhere I believe that a lot of experiments can happen in the Marathi language. Through this, we intend to do a lot of new stuff which has never happened in the state of Maharashtra and obviously there is a function of how we will take off because there are a lot of activations, IPR and property whose premise is different. Like there is a very strong premise of women-centric channels, similarly Zee Yuva will be a unique one which will have younger voice. So this is more new and more next generation. So, you have a Coke, this could be a Pepsi.

In the release that was issued for the channel launch, you had mentioned - 'The content is distinctive and based on audience insight', what exactly are these audience insights? Did you carry out a research or engage an agency for it?
We did our basic research in terms of understanding why. In Maharashtra, for example, a basic thing is that despite having a 60+ per cent Marathi speaking population, the share of Marathi language channels is just about 16 per cent. So what it means is that there are a lot of Marathi-speaking people who are consuming other languages – specifically Hindi. Now the reason why it could be happening, hypothetically, is that the subjects and options are limited. Three channels have a very distinct identity of being women-centric and a particular thing, which means there is an entire big gap in terms of subject lines that can get explored, which can’t be done on women-centric channels; but probably that can be done on these channels because the tastes are different. Zee Yuva will have a very strong digital strategy as well. This will be one of the most digitally-active channels that we will have. Not only in terms of promoting ourselves, but also in terms of content generation, content consumption and content delivery.

So when you are talking about this very strong digital push, what are the platforms that you are looking at and how exactly are you planning your digital strategy?
We are in the process of finalising this bit and I would not be able to share too much with you when it comes to digital. Right now we are focussing on the television launch, but the objective is to have a very strong digital integration, not only in terms of consumption but also for content generation and deliveries. So it will be Part 2 of Zee Yuva offering.

Whenever we see a new channel being launched, they are usually launched with very strong or marquee show, so what have you lined up for Zee Yuva? What will be the very first show on Zee Yuva that we are going to see?
I have avoided that strategy by design, because I think more than a show, the band of 7- 9.30 pm is something that I want to reinforce in my audiences’ minds. Here is a band where you can consume and you can become happy. It is positive. You will see right now in television a lot of stuff, lot of action happening. But here is a very idyllic kind of thing, wherein you wish that your world was like this. So we have not thought of having an ambassador or a strong face, but by design we have avoided those single mono-dimensional promotable tools. You get that initial leverage, but then the content has to deliver. I’d rather have a slow and steady thing with very sound and strong fundamental deliverables.


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