Lata Jha

New Delhi: The final season of iconic American show House of Cards (HoC) will be out this weekend and television viewers in India will be able to watch all of the eight episodes over two days, just one day after it starts streaming on over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platform Netflix. Zee Café, the broadcaster of the show, is planning a binge-telecast of the political thriller where the first four episodes will be premiered back-to-back between 3 pm and 7 pm on 3 November and the other four at the same time on the 4th.

Zee that calls the five-year old show one of the most iconic properties, is driving curiosity around it with an extensive marketing campaign and a spate of brand sponsorship deals. “HoC has been able to crawl out of TV screens into dining-table discussions," said Shaurya Mehta, head, Premium Channels, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL). “At Zee Café, we strive to offer audiences the content that they are waiting for and that is also why we are bringing the series to India along with the rest of the world."

Mehta added that the previous season had resulted in a 30% spike in Zee Café’s average viewership and this season has managed to attract advertisers. While pizza chain Domino’s is the powered by sponsor, automobile brand Renault is the driven by sponsor for the show. Streaming service Amazon Prime Video is a special partner for the show while telecommunication company Nokia, online furniture company Pepperfry, Honeywell Air Purifier and ICICI Bank are associate sponsors on the property. Media industry experts peg revenue from sponsorship deals at around 2 crore, given the niche appeal of the channel and the show.

“With increasing awareness about indoor air pollution, air purifiers as a category is witnessing rapid growth in metro cities. The early buyers in the category are mid-aged people, largely 30 years or older. Data suggests that this audience segment has a high affinity towards English entertainment shows and major consumption happens over the weekends on television," said Ahraaz Khan, marketing leader, Connected Living Solutions, Honeywell Building Technologies, India. “We are partnering with impact platforms like HoC to amplify and establish a connect with this audience segment as part of the ongoing integrated marketing campaign on air purifiers and raising public awareness."

Virat Khullar, head-marketing, Renault India added that HoC has a large male skew, with about 60% of the social media traction coming from Renault’s target group that includes aspirational Indians who look for disruptive products. Kashyap Vadapalli, chief marketing officer, Pepperfry, on the other hand pointed out that the upcoming season of HoC features Robin Wright as the 47th President of the United States who is a popular topic of discussion among HoC’s female audience, key decision-makers in the furniture purchase cycle and the company is looking forward to reaching out to them.

Zee has also planned a comprehensive campaign across media to maximize conversation around the show. This includes a print campaign with leading publications in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru and cross promotions with the help of its network channels. On digital, it has used #HellHathNoFury to engage audiences and launched a special trade activation wherein industry leaders talk about the lessons they’ve learnt from HoC through a series of videos titled Power Trails.

“A lot of English entertainment shows are platform agnostic and get good traction on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. However, a television premiere ensures even deeper penetration and wider appeal," explained Navin Khemka, chief executive officer, Mediacom South Asia. “While HoC may target a similar audience in terms of age group and demography on television and online, broadcast helps reach out to people with a different mindset, perhaps those not accustomed to spending on OTT in a big way. Further, since these OTT platforms are mostly ad-free, this is a good opportunity for brands to speak to an evolved TG."