In a programming strategy to grab more eyeballs, Zee Café, part of the Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL), has brought in 11 new current season shows from the 2007 fall line-up of the US. Viewers in India will be treated to the latest shows from the US networks within days of their US launch.
International films and shows have always been coming in months late for the India viewer. This has been the channel’s rationale behind bringing in the current season shows in the US to India. However, shows like ‘Tonight with Jay Leno’ and ‘E! News’ are already being aired in India around the same time as they are telecast in the US, and these shows have been doing well for the channel.
Among the new season of the series to be aired on Zee café include the 15th season of ‘Survivor’ with ‘Survivor: China’, which will go be premiered on October 7. ‘The Big Bang Theory’, which has been touted in the US as the best comedy of this year, will be premiered on October 18. The other shows that will be featured as part of the US fall line-up include ‘Gossip Girl’, ‘Pushing Daisies’, ‘Back to You’, ‘Journeyman’, ‘Aliens in America’, ‘The Sarah Connor Chronicles’, ‘Unhitched’, ‘Army Wives’ and ‘Travel Girls’.
Talking about this fresh line-up of shows, Neil Chakravarti, Business Head, Zee Café, said, “Zee Café is the only Indian-owned English channel in the country today. Other English channels have programmes that come to India as part of the APAC bouquet. We are glad to offer the youth in India contemporary shows that are currently showing in the US. This is our key differentiator against our closest competition, Star World.”
The channel, which was launched in March 2005, currently airs four Indian shows on Zee Café – ‘After Hours’, which has already touched the 100-episode mark; ‘Top 10 Countdown’; ‘Simple Style’ and ‘Showbiz India Extreme’. When asked about bringing in Indian English fiction series, Chakravarti said, “We had a series called ‘Bombay Talking’ sometime ago, but we realised that the Indian audience is not yet ready to for mainstream homegrown English content.”
The channel aims to enter the English general entertainment channel (GEC) space and its target audience is clearly defined as SEC A and B, 15-44. Asked about the reach of the channel and Chakravarti replied, there are 70 million cable televisions in India today. I can confidently say that we are seen in about 60 to 70 per cent of those cable homes.
While new shows are usually licensed out for telecast duration of 13 episodes, Chakravarti said that the channel would be betting on the TRPs and the popularity of the shows in the US and here too, before the number of episodes fore the shows could be decided upon.
Currently, Zee Café’s old school block, in which it telecasts old popular shows, has been generating good numbers for them. These shows are shown at 6 pm and 11 pm. Chakravarti revealed that the channel will also bring back the classic series, ‘Mind Your Language’ very soon.
Chakravarti also said that as this year Zee Café is concentrating in developing the niche space, a lot of cross marketing activities would be undertaken in the following year to further the branding.