Television

Zeel plans to invest Rs 1 bn in edutainment channel ZeeQ

MUMBAI: Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (Zeel) plans to invest Rs 1 billion over three years in its edutainment channel ZeeQ which launches on 5 November.

Targeted at the 4-14 age group, Zee Q will be the 32nd channel from Zee network and mark its entry into the fast growing Indian kid’s broadcasting market.

The bilingual channel will have 70 per cent content in Hindi and 30 per cent in English. Zee Q will be a pay channel and have a mix of home produced and acquired content.

Zeel MD & CEO Punit Goenka said, “Zee as a group stands by its principle of improvement of human capital and so is the initiative ZeeQ. It is a step ahead in fostering the curiosity amongst children through fun and entertainment.”

The channel will also draw synergy from Zee Group’s education business, Zee Learn. “During production and acquisition of content, we took into consideration the learnings from the 18 years that Zee Learn Limited has been interacting with as many as 300000 students, parents and teachers across India. And this has helped us make its edutainment content engaging and relevant to the needs of Indian children,” Goenka said.

Zee Learn Design Head (Communication/IT/Content & Academics) Subhadarshi Tripathy has been named as the business head of the channel.

"Zeel will invest close to Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) of money that will be pumped in primarily into content, people, and marketing," Tripathy tells Indiantelevision.com.

Tripathy was confident that the channel will break-even in five years. "We will break-even in five years," affirms Tripathy.

"The content is divided into two parts. The animated content is for the age group between 4-7 years. The second part of the content is locally produced and tailor-made for Indian kids for the 8-14 age group,” said Tripathy.

Indiantelevision.com had earlier reported that Zee would be launching a kids channels called Zee Q.

Tripathy said subscription income is important since the channel has decided not to show cola or junk food ads. This will limit Zee Q‘s advertiser pool but the objective is to gain the confidence of parents that nothing on the channel will have negative impact on kids.

“We have a nutritionist on board who tells us what we can take and what we can’t. That’s phenomenal because we won’t have ads that harm child’s safety. We will stay away from cola or processed food ads,” said Tripathy.

The content strategy for Zee Q is simple: to make it fun and educative at the same time. However, it will be a tough road ahead for Zee Q as it will be pitted against well-entrenched kids broadcasters like Cartoon Network, Disney, and Nick who currently enjoy loyalty of the age group that Zee Q is eyeing.

The broadcaster will air four hours of original content daily which includes three to three and half hours of animated content and one hour of locally produced live action shows. Going forward, half of the original content will be local productions which have been commissioned.

“We acquired content that is good to go for about six months which includes three and a half hour acquired and one hour of produced content which will eventually become 50-50 once the produced shows start coming in,” he added.

Some of the shows on Zee Q include specially produced programs like: Teenovation , a show in association with The National Innovation Foundation about Children innovators who display brilliance and create utility items for problems they see around them; Wordmatch -- a National level Hindi game show for children, which enhances their knowledge of English spelling, word usage, sentence construction and vocabulary; and Brain Café -- a super cool café with anything and everything to do with Science. Brain Café is the perfect hang out to learn all about science theories, concepts and their applications in a fun way among others.

The above mentioned show formats will be owned by Zee Learn.

Another important part of the Zee Q programming is its acquired shows which are carefully handpicked by the programming team from amongst numerous available concepts. The acquired programmes have been carefully handpicked and adapted to keep in line with the philosophy of the channel that it is for the Indian kids.

“We conducted a survey with IMRB for all India and we found that participative content is preferable to 4-14 age group. We have travelogues, quiz shows and science by learning programmes. We have taken extensive care to make them interesting and engaging," said Tripathy.

Tripathy feels that the interesting part of Zee Q’s programming strategy will be that it will have parental approval. The broadcaster had conducted a survey with IMRB which had clearly stated that there is high level of anxiousness among parents about the kind of content that kids are exposed to on television.

“To a kids mind the content won’t be boring because it has to be as engaging as the shows that he is watching. But to the parents mind we are making sure that the content we are showing is good for your child’s developmental needs hence I get an approval of parents and push from parents for the kids to watch it,” he averred.

Zee Q, Tripathy believes, will have a positive impact on Zee Learn’s business. Zee Learn will get exposure on the channel and hence will be noticed by its target audiences frequently. Certain school solutions aired on Zee Q as a show from Zee Learn are content like Brain Café.

"The Zee Learn chain of preschools and schools will also help Zee Q in understanding kids behaviour. Programming can be accordingly tailored for the channel," Tripathy said.

Also Read: Zee to launch kids channel, readies for future growth

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