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The time is ripe for more channels in Hindi entertainment, says managing director and chief executive Punit Goenka. Photo: Mint
The time is ripe for more channels in Hindi entertainment, says managing director and chief executive Punit Goenka. Photo: Mint

Zee launches new Hindi entertainment channel &TV

This is the second channel under the & (ampersand) brand name that it launched after &pictures

New Delhi: Broadcaster Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd on Wednesday announced the launch of a new Hindi entertainment channel called &TV to garner a share of the 6,000 crore advertising pie in the segment.

This is the second channel under the & (ampersand) brand name that the group has launched after &pictures aimed at younger audiences seeking differentiated content.

“Zee is for the Hindi heartland and traditional viewers. &TV is for viewers with a contemporary mindset," managing director and chief executive Punit Goenka said. The company operates close to 30 channels in genres such as Hindi, English and regional entertainment, film, music and lifestyle.

The time is ripe for more channels in Hindi entertainment, Goenka said, because the category is growing at 12% a year in terms of advertising and expected to grow further as the economy improves.

Zee is not the first broadcaster to add to its Hindi entertainment portfolio under a different brand. Star India Pvt Ltd, which operates the Star bouquet, launched the OK brand with the Hindi channel Life OK. In August last year, Multi-Screen Media Pvt. Ltd added Sony Pal to its flagship brand Sony.

“& is a symbol of revaluation and the channel has been conceptualized to depict change, stay contextual and contemporary," said Rajesh Iyer, business head for &TV.

The channel is based on research carried out two years ago that resulted in the launch of &pictures. “Zee stands for certain values and concepts while &TV fiction will not come with any audience baggage. We are not worried about turning off our loyal Zee viewers here," Goenka said.

It is easy to see why Zee launched &TV. For starters, second and third entertainment channels from the same stable serve as flanking channels. “The fear is, if I don’t launch a channel, someone else will," said Raj Nayak, chief executive, Colors, Viacom18, refusing to say if the company would enter the fray with its own version.

Secondly, they provide the flexibility to play and experiment with new content. “Third, with media landscape getting fragmented, they help you aggregate viewership in the genre. There is an old saying—if we have to cannibalize, it is it better to eat the flesh ourselves," said Nayak.

Agreed Nagesh Alai, group chairman, advertising agency FCB ULKA. “Typically, any new channel requires a gestation period till it racks up viewership and ratings," he said.

The new channels are also creating the much needed capacity in the genre currently facing a revenue squeeze thanks to the 12 minute per hour advertising cap being followed by most entertainment broadcasters.

According to Jai Lala, head, trading and partnerships, CTG (Central Trading Group), at media buying agency GroupM, although the Hindi entertainment market is cluttered, the success of a new channel will depend on the content and the target audience.

Minus its sports channels, Zee claimed it posted an advertising growth rate of 17% in the December quarter. Between January 2014 and January 2015, the cable and satellite television universe increased by 11% from 145 million to 161 million households, according to the latest data from television viewership monitoring agency TAM Media Research. The total Hindi entertainment genre’s share in 2014 grew only marginally to 31.19% from to 30.53% in 2013.

Meanwhile, Zee posted an increase of 43.5% in net profit to 306.5 crore for the quarter ended 31 December on account of strong growth in advertising revenue. Revenue from sales and services including film distribution increased 268% to 175 crore from 47.6 crore a year ago. Total revenue increased 14.8% to 1,363.7 crore.

Revenue from advertising increased 8.5% to 742.6 crore from 684.3 crore in the same period last year, while subscription revenue declined 2.3% to 446.1 crore.

Vidhi Choudhary in Delhi and Arzoo Dina in Mumbai contributed to this story.

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