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Five questions with Avinash Kaul of Zoom

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Five questions with Avinash Kaul of Zoom

With the ever evolving tastes of the audience and a variety of programming content aired on television today, innovation and creativity has become the mainstay for channels. As Zoom enters its nineth year of operations, the channel is all set to revamp its programming line-up with fresh content to be launched over a period of few months.

In conversation with exchange4media, Avinash Kaul, Chief Executive Officer, ET Now, Times Now and Zoom, shares his perspective on the key highlights of the year gone by, the influence of ‘Bollywood’ on the lifestyle of youth today and the ongoing celebrations themed ‘Celebr8’ marking the eight anniversary of Zoom.

Zoom completed eight years on September 17. How has the journey been so far?
It’s been a very exciting journey of innovation and leadership. Ever since it launched in 2004 and created a brand new genre in Indian television, Zoom has been at the forefront of delivering the best in Bollywood.

This year we’ve already had some big successes. We revamped our music offering with a change in the music programming strategy and fresh packaging with ‘zoombastic’ – music the Zoom way. This has resonated very well with our audience, propelling our morning music band to the top of the ladder among all youth and music channels. We have also revamped our movie offering, refreshing the library and bringing in a good mix of action, comedy, drama and romance to create a completely entertaining experience in ‘Zoom Flicks’.

Our news and feature shows continue to dominate viewership in the genre and we have an exciting line-up of shows planned in the coming months. In fact, on September 24 we are launching a new feature show, ‘Bollywood Storytellers’, that would take the audience through journeys of the new-age filmmakers in Bollywood such as Farhan Akhtar, Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Kashyap and many more such young directors who have redefined the rules of storytelling in Hindi cinema. Their stories are not just interesting but also inspirational for Zoom’s young viewers.

Could you elaborate on the special programming line-up as part of the anniversary celebrations?
As a part of the celebrations, Zoom has launched exciting line-up of features, music and the latest news from Bollywood, themed ‘Celebr8’. Marking this special occasion, we have planned a worldwide premiere of eight exclusive songs together. Viewers will wake up to eight different themes expressed through songs on the ‘Zoom Barbar Jhoom’ specials every morning till September 23. ‘Your Likes’, the popular music request show will feature special playlists from eight top requestors over eight days. ‘4play’ will treat viewers to back-to-back songs from the same movie, while a special show ‘8 at 8’ will showcase eight songs of eight superstars every day.

Over the eight days, viewers will catch their favourite stars at their candid best on ‘OQ’s 8’. A special feature series ‘8-a-thon!’ will showcase eight spectacular debuts, biggest blockbusters, superstars, controversies, fashion statements, on-screen couples and the hottest on-screen appearances in the past eight years. The flagship entertainment news show ‘Planet Bollywood News’ will turn up the heat with eight breaking stories from Bollywood over eight days.

Zoom has always positioned itself as a pure Bollywood channel. Has there been any change in viewership trends in this space?
Audience is always at the centre of everything we do as a brand. Over the years we’ve built a deep understanding of our core viewer which is the youth. Our actions and plans are guided by this understanding and it is borne out in our product and in the brand experience. Youth is a very dynamic target group – in some ways one of the most difficult audiences and at the same time the most exciting. Bollywood has been and will continue to be a strong passion for many generations of youngsters over the years.

However, with each generation of youth, the relationship they share with Bollywood and the influence it yields on them keeps evolving. Zoom has its finger on this ever evolving pulse and when we keep the focus sharply on our audience. We are able to create relevant, impactful and engaging experiences for our viewers and these in turn are great platforms for our advertisers.

How are you exploiting the digital phenomenon? Apart from social media, what are the other platforms that the channel is exploring?
Zoom is among the first few media brands in India that have holistically embraced digital platforms and social media. With over 67 crore views, it is the biggest media brand in Asia on YouTube which is in itself a reflection of the global appetite for Bollywood and the audience preference for our slick style of presentation.

We have over 21 lakh fans on our Facebook page, nearly five lakh fans on Google Plus and close to 70 thousand followers on Twitter. There is also a growing influence on newer platforms such as Socialcam, Tumblr and Pintrest.

Our approach on the digital platforms is to go beyond using them only as a promotional tool. We believe in integrating the online and on-air experiences for our viewers. Just recently we launched an app on Facebook that enables social requesting of songs. It’s a whole new way to request songs and we’re calling it ‘Zoomit!’. Social Media is a platform used by youth to connect and express, and now they can use Bollywood stars and their songs to express their feelings and have all their friends know about it too. The app has already got over 15,000 unique users and over 22,000 requests to Zoomit! – all in less than a month of launch.

What does the future hold for Zoom?
The youth space is exploding with a large number of marketers looking to target this highly brand-conscious segment that has an increasingly higher income and disposition to spend. Bollywood has an omnipresent influence on almost all aspects of the youth’s lifestyle. So Zoom as a brand that caters to the youth and is their most preferred Bollywood destination is poised for some very exciting times.

Our focus is to leverage on the strengths we have as a youth platform, content creator and broadcaster; and as a part of a multi-platform media conglomerate, to partner with marketers and deliver engagement solutions for their brands. Using the philosophy of co-created contextual conversations, rather than plainly plugging a brand into a show, we develop a holistic association between brand and content. With a seamless connect between the brand message and engaging content, and the amplification of that enhanced proposition across multiple media, we are able to deliver a holistic and really impactful communication solution for the marketer.

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