Zindagi has been the talk of the broadcast world with the overseas content that has been premiering on the channel. exchange4media finds out what the channel’s expectations are and where their focus lies. We spoke with Priyanka Datta, Business Head, Zindagi.
1. Which shows have received a good reception from viewers?
‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’ tops the rank. We started the channel with four shows and somewhere viewers have practically eaten each show, but if I had to pick amongst them, then ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’ leads the pack.
2. Are the costs of these shows significantly less in comparison to Indian shows?
I wouldn’t say so. It (show) might end up being more expensive. Because at the moment if we go into Egypt and Turkey, we’ll have to first buy the rights and then remake the show (series), so it ends up being more expensive rather than cheaper. So I really have my doubts whether it will be cheaper. You end up balancing it somewhere. Either you are acquiring the rights so you will have to pay the money or if you are producing you are anyways shelling out money.
3. What brands has the channel been associated with? Any new brands that the channel is looking to attract?
The channel has been successful in creating a category which is a premium mass category. I was in a sales function for many years before I moved on to the business side. One very clear thing that used to come out is the latent need that every client wanted for their premium brands was that they didn’t have any platform in the Hindi GEC space which would give them immediate reach to place their brands. So they had to look at English niche channels. This (channel) is somewhere falling in that category. It addresses progressive mindsets unlike the Hindi GECs which have a traditional mindset. It is a premium mass category, so you will have a lot of premium brands attracted here.
4. What is the audience that Zindagi is targeting?
We are not targeting a mass audience or a traditional audience but naturally it is in the space of a GEC, so it caters to all. But the conversions for a regular mass (point of view) to understand that these shows will finish in 15 days or 26 days is difficult to digest today, because we are used to a particular pattern of viewing in India where serials go on for 3 to 4 years. So people associate and they bond with the artists or characters. So if I were to make a connect, it is a lot like Bollywood in India. Fawad Khan has become a complete rage with Zindagi Gulzar Hai, where you have a lot of people talking about him and wanting to see him. So like our film industry where you have a Salman Khan or a Shahrukh Khan keep on doing films one after the other, Fawad will also be seen in many serials one after the other. The benefit being that it is 26 episodes so you will see him again. This mindset what I am talking about for the masses will take a little longer to adapt this style of viewing. But premium audiences will lap it up immediately.
5. Which channels do you look to compete with?
We are the only channel in the Hindi GEC space which has created a premium mass category. There was a vacant space in the Hindi GEC category. You have traditional GECs like a Zee TV, Star Plus, Colors, etc. You have youth GECs in the form of MTV, Channel V, Zing, etc. Similarly you have an FTA space in the Hindi GEC space where you have Zee Anmol, Utsav, etc. Similarly, now there is a category that caters to the premium mass audience which is Zindagi. So there are channels yet to come in this space, which I am sure they will.
6. Is the content catering to a niche audience?
We are not catering to a niche audience, the category is premium mass. The progressive mindsets have lapped it up which you can see through the buzz where people are wanting to see the change. Amongst the masses there are people who may have converted, for the rest it will take a little time because they are traditional mindset people. They may view it but they may not leave everything else and come to view Zindagi.
7. What is the reason behind choosing Pakistani content?
It was not really Pakistani content that we went with the purpose of choosing. If you see the entire proposition of this channel, is that you get to view stories that are produced overseas and which are shot across the border. Our intention is to get the best of stories from anywhere all across border. So Pakistan is one of the countries whose content we liked. Other than that we would also look at getting content from Egypt, Turkey, etc. The only thing about content from Pakistan is that it became a little easier because the language affinity is there, so we understand their language and we don’t have to shoot the shows. The moment we go to Egypt, Turkey or Bangladesh for that matter we have to shoot those shows into Hindi language. As subtitles doesn’t make it very easy to understand, we will maintain the essence of the shows, but we will actually need to shoot it in Hindi language otherwise people will not understand it. Why we went with Pakistani shows to begin with, was the fact that there was a language connect there. Because in India we speak Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi and that is what they speak in their serials.
8. How long do you estimate before Zindagi becomes a channel to reckon with?
This particular channel is not in competition with Star Plus, Zee TV or any other channel. Because there is a traditional space and progressive space and they are two separate spaces altogether. For the progressive space there was nothing available and so Zindagi has come in this space. Traditional will continue as it is. There is a lot of audience there and there is nothing wrong in that. It will continue because the masses are huge. Progressive space is where we play a part.