Television

Zee Classic refreshes in attempt to attract mass audiences

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MUMBAI: The Punit Goenka-led Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) has got into a hyper-refresh mood, revamping its channels, one after the other. First, it announced the relaunch of Zindagi, and now it’s the turn of Zee Classic.

Known for showcasing movies from the sixties, seventies and eighties and nineties era, the channel is being revamped on 3 October with a new positioning and programming line-up. The reason: it has ambitious plans to expand its target audience, and thus its viewership.

The management says it has come up with a disruptive programming idea: catalogue movies from each era into a separate time band. The channel claims that the Zee Classic is the first Indian Hindi movie channel to initiate this, and has roped in the Bollywood heartthrob Arjun Kapoor to be the channel’s ambassador.

“At Zee, we have the largest library of movies, and now Zee Classic is adopting a strategic time-band approach instead of the the routine FPC approach,” say Zee Hindi movie cluster business head Ruchir Tiwari. “This strategy is a result of meticulous planning, acquisition and programming for an entire year which will ensure that Zee Classic caters to all kinds of viewers.”

The library that Tiwari is referring to is 500-plus strong and includes movies over four decades – possibly catering to three generations – and hence, the channel’s proposition "Woh Zamaana, Kare Deewana", and the revamp campaign theme "Aaj Ka Classic."

The time bands that have been introduced include:

The ‘Best of 80s and 90s’ that will showcase hits from decades that saw the emergence of more than 10 superstars ranging from Jackie Shroff, Sunny Deol, Mithun Chakraborty, Anil Kapoor to the three Khans, Govinda and Akshay Kumar.

‘The '70s Mix’ will showcase blockbusters from the 1970s, an era that reflected the nuances of the society, but turned out to be preeminently a decade of the ‘angry young man’, action movies and melodious music.

‘Shaandar Sixties’ will present movies of the 1960s, a decade that saw the rise of the popular romantic genre. The golden era of ‘Black and White’ that set the foundation of the Hindi film industry will include masterpieces that will transport spectators back in time.

Highlighting this shift, will be exclusively curated movie festivals like Jhakaas Kapoor Festival, Har Din Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan B’day Special, among many others and specials like ‘Timeless Asha.’

Earlier, Zee Classic was targeted at mature adults – which served as a niche - but it attracted younger audiences too. The channel has now dissected its viewers into the connoisseurs of golden cinema, the middle-aged adults, the new-age classic as well as contemporary young adults. “From the channel’s perspective, the core, however, will be the 25- 45 years age group,” says Tiwari. “UP is the biggest market, and for us the northern belt is a priority.”

From 2004 to 2010, Zee Classic recorded a two per cent viewership share in the Hindi movie genre. This, according to Tiwari, has risen to six per cent over the past year. The idea is to now take that up to 10 per cent. “We see the channel catering to mass audiences in its specific space. It has the potential to compete with the top rated channels in the genre. It’s a strategic call that we took,” explains Tiwari. “We have to buy the films accordingly, and also plan (in that manner).”

Zee Unimedia chief operating officer Ashish Sehgal reveals, “Zee Classic contributes a massive 15 per cent revenue share in the Zee Hindi movies cluster among the SD channels – Zee Cinema, &pictures, Zee Classic, Zee Action and Zee Anmol Cinema. In the last three to four years, Zee Classic’s revenue has grown more than four times, and as it’s evolving; currently it commands a premium rate even at its existing ratings.”

The introduction of time bands is also expected to appeal to FMCG and other advertisers automobiles, mobile handsets, telecom and take revenues up further. “The Zee Classic viewer is comparatively more involved than on any other Hindi movie channel. For the brand campaign ‘Aaj Ka Classic,’ we have locked in three channel partners including SC Johnson, Hindustan Unilever and Dabur across all the time bands,” says Sehgal.

The look and property of the Zee Classic logo has been designed by Zee TV’s in-house team, while the entire Aaj Ka Classic marketing and promotional campaign has been executed by FCB Ulka. Print, TV, digital and outdoor media are to be used in an aggressive manner. The TVC has been created keeping in mind the grandeur of the Indian cinema as well as the taste of the movie buff. Iconic memorabilia comprising the friend cap, musical instruments like accordion, classic movie posters, collection of books, DVDs and many more have been used to relive the various decades of cinema.

Rights owner and film distributor Goldmines Telefilms director Manish Shah is all praise for Zee Classic. Says he: “Right now there are only two channels Zee Classic and Max 2, which are looking towards old movies. Zee Classic has a good library of classic movies. However, sometimes it resorts to airing Zee Cinema type movies to get viewership numbers.”

And, he cautions that the tack of airing too many repeats and expanding audiences through the revamp may not really work. “We need to understand that Classic reaches to a niche audience, it is not mass audience, and if you keep repeating those movies, the viewership eventually will fall.,” he explains. “Also, if it is looking for 90s and NFDC films, then these are the kinds of movies which Classic audience doesn’t want to watch.”

Be that as it may, the ZEEL team is pretty enthusiastic about Zee Classic’s shift. As is the brand ambassador Arjun Kapoor. Says he: “I am thrilled to be a part of ‘Aaj Ka Classic’. I have grown up loving cinema and classics have defined my choices as a viewer as well as an actor. My grandfather, father, and uncle have contributed to Hindi films for years, and I have fond memories of going on the sets and film trial shows. These movies will always be a reference point, always at the back of my mind. I am happy that Zee Classic gave me the opportunity to be a part of this campaign and I appreciate their initiative of introducing such time-band-led programming on their channel.”

Will Zee Classic viewers too show similar appreciation?

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