The Zoom Entertainment Network (ZEN) would much rather be defined by a specific audience than a genre. The Network is in the process of adding more offerings, and Suresh Bala, CEO, Zoom Television, informed that the focus of these offerings would be on aggregating the urban, upscale audience. First on the immediate plans is another channel. Bala didn’t divulge much on the channel except that it would also be in the niche space, concentrating on the high-end audience.
He further said that the new channel was expected to launch by mid-2008. When asked on the rationale behind the focus on niche, Bala replied, “Trying to be in the GEC space now is like being at a party at 2 am. This really is not the time to begin working on a GEC, but to begin working on specialties. This is a must for an entity like us to become a content brand.”
Elaborating further, Bala said, “All channels today tend to define themselves by the genre they are in, and when you don’t have any specific genre, then it is a GEC. I don’t think this is the best way to sell a channel, since advertisers aren’t interested in buying a genre but an audience. The audience is more of a sub-text or a derivation. Once you have a brand, you have to have a target audience. Any brand cannot offer the same experience to a heterogeneous audience.”
“Historically, the BCCL group has been the best deliverer of the upscale and urban audience. Now, with appointment viewing no longer being the way it was, in addition to increasing media fragmentation and proliferation of choice, the canvas for Zoom is to constantly aggregate the urban and upscale audience through one channel or through several other offerings that would come from this stable. We are focussed on these audiences. As the market gets more fragmented, tomorrow Zoom has to mean something as a brand. So, we have to have an upscale urban audience and within that then there has to be predictable content,” added Bala.
He explained that while the thought process for the new channel was based on this rationale, in addition to another channel, ZEN would also focus on the international Diaspora and its digital capabilities.
Bala said, “When you take the view that you are not a channel but a content brand that is looking for a certain kind of audience, one of the powerful markets for us is the international Diaspora that is interested in what we do. We have already tested this hypothesis by putting our content on YouTube. Within six weeks of us putting our videos there, three of our videos were among the top 20 most watched channels on YouTube.”
Now YouTube has given ZEN a channel. Bala divulged that ZEN was one of the few players from India that had a dedicated channel in YouTube. He said, “We distribute through a broadband international service called WatchIndia.com, (Liveasia.com), that goes all over. We are very bullish on a few IPTV networks. I believe that there might be a ‘here and now’ content in linear TV, but the long term revenue is in non-linear TV and any on-demand platform.”
Bala is of the opinion that for the international audiences, who move to Indian content as an escape route from the mainline television that they are consuming, the best way to serve is through the on-demand platform.