Television

Zoom looking at end-September launch

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MUMBAI: It's almost all systems go for the first of the four "premium, unique niche channels" that the Bennett, Coleman stable expects to launch over the next 12 to 15 months.

The group has categorised Zoom, which is expected to officially start beaming into Indian homes "anytime" after the third week of this month, as a premium, niche, non-fiction entertainment and lifestyle channel.

 

Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited president Arun Arora and Times Television Network COO Apurva Purohit, speaking exclusively to indiantelevision.com, dwelt at length about the "aspirational entertainment Hindi channel", its vision and why they were convinced that a mass niche channel (Arora's description) like Zoom would be able to redefine entertainment television in India. A point that Arora stressed upon was that all the research that the group had conducted (both internal and external) indicated that Zoom's key target audience of adult "metrosexuals" were craving for quality entertainment that was not "saas-bahu" driven. The language of the channel would hence be a mix - 80 per cent Hindi and 20 per cent English.

 

Times Group president Arun Arora offers a sneak peek into Zoom's channel id. The Zoom logo will appear at the bottom left of TV screens.



One of the channel's clear strengths that Arora alluded to was its capacity to get any and every Indian celebrity associated where and when required. That Zoom will have access to celebrities better than any other channel is one thing that no one disputes among the media fraternity.



Queried as to whether Zoom could be likened to international lifestyle channel E! in terms of content and USP, Purohit said that while there were similarities as far as the "celebrity-pull" quotient was concerned, the Times channel had a far broader range of coverage. Purohit confirmed that there would be an E! band from 11:30 pm to 12:30 am, as part of Zoom's content offerings. Arora said syndication of shows from other international networks was also on the cards but did not provide any details.



The marketing and promo efforts are ready for release as soon as the launch date is finalised, including teasers on radio and a radio contest for guessing the voice of the celebrity promoting Zoom, as well as hoardings and Internet campaigns. Lemon, which bagged the Zoom creative account, has shot the promo campaign for the channel in Dubai.



The Zoom team, which is creating 60 per cent of the programming in house, will shift to the 80,000 square feet of space that the company has acquired in the Kamla mills compound in Parel shortly.



CHANNEL TO BE PRICED AT Rs 7.50



For Zoom, which will be priced at a steep Rs 7.50, Irshwin Balwani has recently been appointed business head. Balwani, an old Times hand, has been involved in the launches of music label CBS, Times FM in its earlier avatar, and Planet M. While the Zoom team reports to Balwani, it is to Purohit as the chief operating officer for the entire Times television initiative, to whom all television channel heads will report.



As far as the character of the channel is concerned, the thinking is that "as aspirations in India revolve around the lives of the rich and famous from fields like Bollywood, sports, music and politics, the programming on Zoom would be created through celebrity-based shows. Zoom would create a platform where Celebs and viewers could interface with each other."



Programming genres that Zoom will cover are lifestyle and fashion, music based shows, film entertainment, celebrity chat shows, celebrity game shows, astrology and the paranormal.



Among the production houses that Zoom has tied up with to do its shows are Balaji Telefilms, UTV, Bombay Talkies, Miditech, Rose Audio Visuals and Cinevistaas. Hosting programmes on the channel will be celebrities like fashion designer Manish Malhotra, actor-director Pooja Bedi, stand-up comedian Vir Das, actor Irrfan Khan, model Yana Gupta, etc.



For uplinking, the group has already signed an agreement with the Essel Shyam facility in Noida. Zoom will be beaming off the PAS 10 satellite in C band with a strong footprint over India.

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