Zee News Ltd and Sky B (Bangla) Pvt Ltd, a leading media player of Bengal, have entered into a strategic partnership, wherein Zee News would now handle marketing, ad sales and programming initiatives of Sky B’s Akaash Bangla, the 24-hour regional infotainment channel in Bengali, against an agreed fee structure. Through a separate agreement, Zee News will also acquire a 26 per cent stake in Sky B.
Incidentally, Bengali news channel 24 Ghanta is owned by Zee Akaash News Pvt Ltd, which is a 60:40 joint venture between Zee News Ltd (ZNL) and Sky B.
Commenting on the development, Barun Das, CEO, Zee News Ltd, said, “Bengal is one of the most important regional markets in India. It is the largest market for regional news and the total television ad market there is estimated to be around Rs 280 crore, growing at around 20 per cent per annum. We already have two channels – Zee Bangla and 24 Ghanta – both of which are leaders in their respective genres. This tie-up with Sky B will add further to our competitive advantage. Akaash Bangla, which is a strong Bengali GEC, will certainly scale new heights under ZNL’s management supervision and will once again emerge as a winning brand. It’s a win-win tie-up for both the organisations. Now, ZNL, along with Akaash Bangla, should command around 70 per cent of Bengali viewership share, whereas Akaash Bangla will be able to exploit its brand potential.”
The scope of this agreement as far as content is concerned will be restricted to entertainment programming only, while news programming will continue to be produced by Sky B’s current news programming team. The ad sales function will now be handled by Zee News.
Das further said, “East is a market of strategic importance and we would like to strengthen our presence there to emerge as the single largest player in electronic media. Our endeavour would also be to leverage the strong brand equity of Akaash Bangla. We foresee extremely encouraging upside for Zee News Ltd through this arrangement.”
A Sky B spokesperson added, “We will be leveraging ZNL’s expertise, experience and brand value to strengthen our position in the Bengal market and take Akaash Bangla to higher echelon of success. I am sure that this arrangement will further cement our cordial and productive business relationship that we’ve had till now with ZNL.”
Nitin Vaidya, Head of Regional Channels, Zee News Ltd, commented “Zee News Ltd will bring forward its entire programming, marketing and selling expertise to create a winning media brand out of Akaash Bangla.”