Zees mega push in Europe

MUMBAI: Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) has got Europe on its radar. India’s largest private international broadcaster is looking at launching a wellness channel Veria Living in the UK; mulling a Russian launch for it; studying the prospects for an English language factual entertainment brand; and partnering with a European OTT service provider Voddler.

This was disclosed by company chairman Subhash Chandra to Digital TV Europe. Chandra said the Indian market is ripe for healthcare content programming. "We should be launching in the coming early summer - maybe an April, May, June kind of timeframe," he told Digital TV Europe.

Extending its programming to Russia, Zee is also looking at having a majority stake in an existing health and wellness channel there and later pumping in dubbed content from Veria Living.

Add to this, Zee has inked a deal with Swedish VOD firm Voddler to globally stream its premium content with initial focus on people in India, USA and Indonesia.

The Voddler deal comes after Zee launched its Ditto TV service last year, which provides live streaming and TV on demand from Zee channels on tablet, mobile and internet platforms. Initially launched in India, Ditto TV now covers UK, Australia and New Zealand as well.

A Voddler release said Zee will brand and market the OTT service globally. With Zee already delivering content to 670 million people across 168 countries globally, the deal is set to take Zee to the online platform while cashing in on the broadcaster’s over 100,000 hours of television and film programming.

“Voddler is committed to bringing great content online with the world’s best cloud-based streaming technology. We’re thrilled to partner with Zee to offer their premium series and movies to fans globally. The Voddler solution scales at all data levels and makes true global online streaming feasible, both from a financial and technical perspective. To continue to build the world’s most efficient cloud-based streaming solution, we couldn’t hope for a more visionary partner than Zee,” said Voddler CEO Marcus Bäcklund in the release.

Starting off with a pilot VOD service, the chosen three markets are the ones that have shown interest in Bollywood. It is due to release early 2014. Voddler’s cloud based service called VoddlerNet is capable of storing large videos at superior quality as well as save on streaming cost.

Chandra said in the release: “Zee turned 20 years this fall. As we now step into our third decade, we are transforming ourselves from a broadcaster to a narrowcaster that will cater to every screen. Voddler’s solution, with its innovative streaming technology and almost limitless cloud solution, enables us to execute on that strategy fast and efficiently."

A report reveals that at a function last week where Chandra received his doctorate of business administration from the University of East London, the Zee head honcho revealed there are four types of programming he is looking at : South Asian programming; South Asian programming repurposed for given markets, dubbed or subtitled in different languages; local production in the local languages; and global programming, produced in English language and distributed globally, again dubbed in local languages.

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