We knew Zindagi won’t be in league of Zee, other GECs

23 Jan,2015

 

Okay, okay, this is for the second consecutive day that we are doing a big story on a Zee channel, but that’s a coincidence. No motive… no quid pro quo 🙂

 

So should a Hindi general entertainment channel necessarily score big on the weekly ratings roster to be termed a success? Not if you are Zindagi, launched in June 2014, which hit upon the winning concept of airing Pakistani television shows at primetime. The concept has worked, carving a unique ‘premium’ niche for the Zee Entertainment channel. Pradyuman Maheshwari spoke with Priyanka Datta, Business Head of Zindagi. Excerpts from an interview:

 

For India and Indians, Pakistani and everything Pakistani is perceived as Enemy #1. Did the seven-month run of Zindagi see any unsettling moments given the various issues we’ve had with our neighbour?

When we launched the channels we too thought along these lines. In fact we had security outside our office and were ready for any possible backlash. But the response has been amazing. There is no negativity whatsoever, in fact there’s only appreciation from all quarters.

 

The channel was launched with much fanfare on June 23, 2014. How has the year been for you?

The response has been overwhelming. It wasn’t a mass channel to deliver major ratings like you see in the Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) space. We launched keeping the content for an ‘X’ mindset and we’ve reached that audience remarkably well. Now we intend to innovate and grow.

 

If there’s one thing to differentiate the mindset of a ZeeTV versus that of Zindagi, what would it be?

Zindagi very clearly caters to an absolutely progressive mindset. A person who can stand for her right, it has female audience-based shows, away from the melodrama, more in the realistic realm of things. That’s the content we offer and the audience we target.

 

For an organisation which has a channel where ratings are always in three figures, it must’ve taken some to get used to this double-figure rating for a GEC?

That’s all in the mind because in this very network you have English channels which also have a single figure rating but are doing very well in their genre. We knew Zindagi won’t be of the league of Zee or other Hindi GECs because the content differs widely. We felt it could’ve done a little better than what it’s delivering now, but we were not very way off.

 

You haven’t caught the bug of reality or song-and-dance shows yet?

We don’t intend to, this isn’t a typical Hindi GEC. I don’t think there’s any need for a reality show or non-fiction. For example, a DID doesn’t fit into it.

 

No Pakistani DID?

Zindagi isn’t a Pakistani channel. Currently, the content is all from Pakistan, primarily because the language affinity is there. In India, we don’t have finite shows in the Hindi space. That will take time to come on air here. We are already talking of regional productions as we go on, along the year.

 

But, as of now, it is Pakistani…

Yes, the content that you have is Pakistani. We’re looking at exploring content from various places like Turkey and Egypt from the second phase of this year.

 

How have you done in adsales ?

This channel is being received well. I’m sure we’ll do better as we go along.

 

Are you able to attract any premium because of the kind of audience you have?

Honestly speaking, whatever we are doing is the premium we are getting and selling on. We definitely can’t sell on ratings, seeing them as they are. It’s all on premium and the brands have only been growing. It’s faring pretty well. The mindset is also changing from an advertising standpoint. In the Hindi space, people so far are not used to buying content on premium. It’s all very CPRP- and GRP-linked. English channels, for instance, are bought on premium and perception, not ratings. Hindi channels haven’t been bought on perception because none existed to buy.

 

The sentiment in Pakistan in the television industry is very popular towards Zindagi. It’s more money for them too. Are you cashing in on that in any way?

We’re looking at getting more. We’ve already procured most of the cream they have produced so far. The good thing is, it’s not just the content that’s bringing the freshness. All their best actors and directors are into television. They are far more natural actors… they go to bed in nighties, not zari-lined sarees! That appeals very well to our audiences.

 

Some of the Pakistani stars are quite a rage here, right?

Yes, it’s working for them. Now, many Zindagi stars are getting into Hindi films. Like Fawad Khan was signed on for a film much earlier, but became a household name only after he was on Zindagi. Everywhere he went for the promotion of his film Khoobsurat, he was being asked about Zindagi Gulzar Hai and asked to sing, talk of his TV show etc.

 

A version of this appeared in dna of brands dated January 19, 2014

 

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