Zee Café has partnered with BBC Worldwide to bring award winning premium British dramas under the content block BBC First. From June 26, 2017, Zee Café will bring 11 new shows across genres like thriller, alternate history, sci-fi, drama and crime at 10 pm on weeknights. These include War & Peace, Fleming: The Man who would be Bond, Class, SS-GB, Maigret, Doctor Foster, Top of the Lake, The Kettering Incident, New Blood, From Darkness, and Thirteen.
Punit Misra, CEO - Domestic Broadcast Business, Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) said, “This rich catalogue of unforgettable dramas is in line with our brand promise of ‘All Eyes on New’ and will significantly enhance our channel portfolio. From edgy new perspectives to shows that immortalise classics, we believe that this block of BBC First will be irresistible to the discerning Indian viewer who values premium content.”
Maruti Suzuki Nexa is the lead sponsor for this content block. The shows have been curated as one show a week. Exclusivity was a criteria behind selecting these shows, said Misra. “Except one maybe, they are not available anywhere else. It’s an important criteria,” he added.
The shows are also selected based on universal emotions. Misra talked about TG, ’20-40: “In the large towns, SEC AB would be people who we think would consume. If that happens, we will be happy about it.”
The line of programming doesn’t include comedy. Aparna Bhosle, Business Cluster Head for ZEE’s Premium and FTA GEC Channels, explained the reason behind it, “It is difficult to catch British comedy if you aren’t used to it. I could have done it, but it would have jarred a bit.”
Having said that, she is quick to mention that they are working on the same genre, which will be announced shortly. For the same, the channel’s programming team will get content from all over the world, including Britain, Australia and the US. “It’s a different genre we are trying in comedy.”
They have an ongoing contract with BBC Worldwide where 16 more shows have been shortlisted, which will be played out in October and November. Bhosle confessed that she is taking a huge risk with this move but she and her team definitely wanted to go for it. “Unless you find new avenues how will you know where your next big thing is?”
But then again, she seems upbeat about the acceptance of their British content considering its short nature. She explained, “It’s not long drawn content as it’s stretched between three, eight and nine episodes. So, the stories are crisp and people will see the difference.”
This will work well both for weekend binges as well as “it will get over on the weekends”. Bhosle plans to play out the shows on the weekends after three weeks of weekday airtime.
Misra agreed, “We think that content will bring people on board. The fact that it’s from BBC is something which should be interesting and familiar to people.”
The channel has been ratings driven and topped the BARC chart for Week 24. So what’s working for the channel? “Comedy is working. Different varied audience is coming on to the channel. Big Bang Theory cuts across age groups. Younger age groups go for Gotham and Supergirl.”
Julia Kenyon, Director, Global Brands and Content Marketing, BBC Worldwide, said, “We are delighted that Zee Café is bringing BBC First to India, which will bring the best of British creativity to an appreciative audience. This is a curation of critically acclaimed and award-winning original British drama that will challenge perceptions though surprising storylines and unforgettable characters.
“BBC First has been very successful in countries where it has already launched across Australia, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. We look forward to connecting with Indian audiences who know and enjoy premium drama,” she added.
The content will be played on its linear OTT platform Ditto.
The marketing strategy will be concentrated on television, digital and social media platforms. Zee Café, through its robust promotional campaign, weaves these British associations with more communication around #TheBritishAreComing.