interview with Zoom business head MK Anand|
Merrill Lynch deal has given us a Rs 5 billion valuation'
on 15 October 2008|
selling 25 per cent stake to Merrril Lynch for Rs 1.25 billion, Zoom is gearing
up for more programme launches to race ahead of competition that has arrived in
the form Showbiz and E24.
upscale audiences, the channel from the Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL) Group
has increased its dosage of Bollywood-centric prime time content with a slate
of new shows. Aided by a rise in ratings, Zoom is eyeing a revenue of Rs 1 billion
an interview with Indiantelevision.com's
Zoom business head MK Anand discusses the growth track of the channel and the
need to push the Bollywood genre of content across different markets through the
Has Zoom Entertainment Network (ZEN) diluted 25 per cent stake to Merrill Lynch
for Rs 1.25 billion?
We got a valuation of Rs 5 billion when Merrill Lynch
bought this stake in around May-June. We are utilising this amount to develop
stronger content for the channel. Some of the new shows are already launched and
we will gradually unveil a few more.
Will you also not spend more on distribution as channels are finding it difficult
to find space on choked analogue cable networks?
We are content with our
present distribution. We will be utilising the money only for new programmes.
Why has Zoom shifted gear to Bollywood-centric shows?
closer to celebrity life was the whole idea on which Zoom was launched. The metamorphosis
happened when we realised that 'celebrity' as a word in India is congruent with
when we started, we were showing programmes based on popular
influential people from all walks of life (corporate, sports,
page 3). As we went along, we had to change and make it a
Bollywood-centric channel because that is what people whom
we target want to see. We tried to make the channel more holistic
from the Bollywood point of view by showing many related things.
our lifestyle shows are centred arround Bollywood. We will, for instance, not
have a cookery show. But if a Bollywood actor likes some particular food, then
we will show him cooking something. So we will always look for a Bollywood element
in whatever we show.
Was this metamorphosis dictated by the generic revenue limitations of a lifestyle
The lifestyle content on Zoom was always negligible compared
to the glamour factor.
programming budgets have definitely doubled over last year as our offerings have
increased. Other than short form of content, we are now getting into longer formats
which cost more.
it is also important to note that we operationally broken even last year. This
has happened in just three years of our existence!
advertisers been more supportive after Zoom shifted to a Bollywood-centric channel?
When we launched, an advertiser could not classify us in any category because
we were the first ones in the space. But now we have been substantially increasing
our rates even while other channels were dropping theirs. This has been possible
because we have an ad sales team which is bigger than what a channel of this size
would normally have. As a group we are very ad-focussed.
inventory is sold out. Some 300 clients must be active every year. We would be
having 15-20 exclusive deals.
we started, we were showing programmes based on popular
people from all walks of life. As we went along, we
made it a Bollywood-centric channel because that is
what people whom we target want to see'
is your revenue target this year?
We are targeting Rs 1 billion this fiscal
(August-July period). This is after taking into account revenues through ads,
video ads and content syndication that we do with other broadcasters.
does Zoom compare with when you pitch to clients?
We normally compare
ourselves with Star Movies, MTV, HBO and 9XM.
are the players focussed on this TG (target group) - SEC AB 1 million+ in the
age group 15-34.
What are the positioning changes Zoom has undergone ever since its launch?
The Times of India Group as a whole has affinity with the urban upscale English
speaking audiences. That has always been the Group's focus. Similarly when it
came to TV, we decided not to go for a mass channel and invest heavily in it.
Instead, we thought of launching something for the particular audience we have
we launched a channel catering to 1 million+ cities of India. Our weekly reach
has gone up from 15-20 per cent in mid-2006 to 36 per cent this year.
a brand we promised to deliver glamour and we have done that successfully. In
terms of brand proposition, we have evolved in terms of our offerings.
How do you see Bollywoood evolving as a genre?
Bollywood shows are still evolving as a genre. It is the
most popular content, after fiction shows and movies. Even
news channels have special shows centred arround Bollywood.
position ourselves as a generic channel for Bollywood.
does Zoom source content?
We have a reporting team of about 40 people.
They continuously shoot and get stories on Bollywood related stuff which is archived.
That is the main store for us and we take footage from there and develop shows.
in house team uses them to produce shows like Zabar 10, Planet Bollywood.
Besides, we also have external production houses which make shows for us. Bollywood
Club is done by Optimystix, Bollywood Case Files is done by Moving
Pictures Company. We give our archived stuff to them as well.
is the movie acquisition strategy?
the movies that we telecast, we acquire them from other channels or producers
for limited airings.
is the prime time on Zoom?
Advertisers identify prime time from 5 pm in
the evening till 1 am. But from the viewers point of view, it lasts from 7 pm
- 9:30 pm, the time band where we have launched our new shows. Our core prime
time would be 8-9 pm where we will launch stronger shows.
also provides shows to other channels. How strong is this business?
we do shows for other channels. We have realised that the bank that we have is
more than what we can use. So why not commercially exploit our content further?
have not approached any Hindi channel, but we have some channels in the regional
space who use our content. We have given our shows to ETV and Sun Network.
also have two deals in Pakistan.
We are doing a one-hour show for Safron TV in South Africa.
this not kill the exclusivity element on your channel?|
Zoom enjoys more
channel loyality as far as Bollywood content is concerned. We have a first mover
advantage in the genre. We also have exclusive coverage. Besides, we can leverage
exclusive tie ups which Bombay Times has with others.
are the digital initiatives Zoom has undertaken?
We are looking at opportunities
in the digital space. Our channel is made up of short form of content. Say three
stories of four minutes each are clubbed in a half-hour episode. If we unstring
these episodes and put these videos on internet, they become easy to download.
small videos are more popular than the longer format due to lower streaming capacity
in India. We unbundle the entire episode and put these videos on our site.
further promoting them, we have started putting these videos on other websites.
We realised that there was an opportunity in syndicating Bollywood content. This
has, in fact, increased traffic on our video online content.
the importance of this, we are looking at synergies now. We have an ad sales deal
with these websites. We also promote our other shows through these videos. This
makes the marketing of our shows easier and consumption increases.
are these websites?
Rediff iShare, Yahoo, Youtube and Nautanki TV. They
have good traffic and for us they become a platform to share our shows.
have an ad sales contract with all of them.
big a challenge is distribution?|
Distribution is key to the business.
But since we also have the consumer pull factor, cable operators will find it
difficult to dislodge us from their networks. The Bollywood genre is also expanding
with other channel launches. In another 18 months, we can expect the genre to
develop and be widely accepted.
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