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Zindagi and Sony Pal are really not in the same space: Priyanka Dutta

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Zindagi and Sony Pal are really not in the same space: Priyanka Dutta

It has been four and half months since the launch of new Hindi GEC Zindagi which specialises in bringing content from across the borders to Indian viewers. We spoke to Priyanka Dutta, Business Head, Zindagi on the response from the audience & marketers, the competition and the channel’s future plans.

How has the channel’s performance been since the launch?
We were very clear on what is the TG we were after and what is our core audience and we were sure that we would create a new category in the Hindi GEC space. But the kind of response that we’ve got is very overwhelming, encouraging and positive.

Zindagi has been facing stiff competition from new Hindi GEC Sony Pal which was launched two months later, what are your plans to beat competition?
Sony Pal and Zindagi are really not in the same space. We are targeting very different audiences because they are very mass and we are a premium Hindi channel. It is a different space altogether. So if I were to compare ourselves to premium channels, Hindi equivalent channels don’t exist in our country as of now. But the space is only improving. In just four months we have about 60 minutes of time spent which is really big keeping in view that this particular section of society does not really view that much of television. They do not have the time between family, work so on and so forth to spend so much of time on television or watch serials. It is meaningful & differentiated television and it is working.

With Zindagi targeting the premium Hindi audience and the series been finite in nature, has it affected the growth of the channel?
The premium audience is comparatively a very small section of the society, so if you talk of the TAM ratings, naturally you want see too many numbers there. But where the premium section is concerned we’ve basically started targeting the mindsets. So those mindsets are the ones that we researched, which is where we got the various attributes for the channel. Viewing habits do take some time to change because till now to our audiences haven’t been given any differentiated content. We have never given them a platform like this to watch something which is very different from the Saas-Bahu sagas.

Are you looking to stick to finite content or looking at longer series?
We would definitely not look for endless serials which go on for years like they do in the Hindi space.  We will look at the finite space. The basics when we get into production will remain the same.

In our last interview you spoke about targeting brands which are for the premium Hindi audience, how has the response from brands been?
If you see from when we started to where we are now there is a huge increase in brands on the channel. The kind of audiences who are viewing the content is another positive thing. Most of the clients or the media directors at the client end are also the viewers of this content. There is FMCG of course, there is also auto as a category and others.

There were plans to launch shows from other countries in Latin America and Middle East. When are you planning to launch these shows?
Initially we are showing Pakistani content because of the commonality of language. But yes the minute you get into Latin America or Egypt or other countries you will need to recreate those shows.  We will get into fresh production soon (at least within a year). We are in the process of working on it so it will take some time before we can get it on air.

How long before the channel can breakeven and start becoming profitable?
We will breakeven very soon and breaking even should not be an issue because there are larger plans. Being a listed company, I would not be able to talk about it. We would foray into different markets as well.

Where do you hope to see the channel when it completes a year?
I see it doing phenomenally well. Hopefully by that time maybe a year down the line we should also have fresh content that we would be introducing. I see the progressive mindsets loving it still because we have some fantastic handpicked stories that will keep happening. So we are hopeful that it will also change the viewing habits slowly and gradually of the masses and we see movement and traction happening there as well.

With another Hindi GEC to be launched by Zee under the ‘&’ brand name, where do you see it being placed in terms of the target audience considering that there are already two Hindi GECs by the network?
In the Hindi GEC segment, you have a lot of space available even as of now where you can have two regular Hindi GECs, in a sense catering to all SECs at the same time.

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