Television

"The appeal for Indian content amongst Britasians in the UK is strong": Business Head - FTA channels, mainstream sales head at Zee Network UK Archana Kanade

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Archana Kanade is the young and dynamic head of free to air channels business of Zee UK. Her job: increase the cachet that the two channels she heads – Zing and Lamhe – have with Britasians in the UK. In addition, she has the added responsibility of looking after mainstream advertising sales for the network.

Under her leadership, Zing has become the most watched Asian lifestyle channel in the UK. She has also been responsible for the launch of ‘Cloud 9‘ – the UK’s first Asian drama shot locally.

Kanade’s background is from mainstream sales, wherein she pushed Zee TV’s shows and film catalogue to global clients. This apart she has had a three year stint in Mumbai with Applause Entertainment, a former Birla group company, involved in production of TV shows and films.

She recently spearheaded the luanch of Lamhe in the UK, giving it a snazzy look and feel. Indiantelevision.com spoke to her to get her perspective on the potential for Lamhe and Zing in the UK in a short bite interview.

Excerpts:

How large is the market for Indian content in the UK? How big is the TV advertising market in the UK?

South Asians are the largest ethnic group in the UK, with a population close to three million. The appeal for Indian content amongst this group is strong with a large number of channels catering to them. Zee is the largest and fastest growing network catering to this group and aims to distinguish its offerings and provide the best in the genre for them. The advertising expenditure of the UK market is close to US $7.5 billion.

How many viewers do you currently cater to? How many of those belong to the South Asian and Indian community?

Zee’s two free-to-air channels are available across the major platforms – Sky on DTH and Virgin Media on cable as well as on the mobile TV service Yamgo. Zee offers premium South Asian content to the South Asian community. Its shows and movies offer English subtitles, making it accessible to the UK’s mainstream communities too. The appeal of the Indian culture and especially Bollywood is widespread across ethnic boundaries, which extends the reach of Zee’s content.

Furthermore, many of Zing’s shows are in English and the channel aims to be a platform targeted to the second and third generation British Asians in the UK. It is showcasingCloud 9, which represents a milestone in Asian entertainment as it is the very first daily soap-series to be produced in the UK, specifically catering to the UK Asian audiences. This soap highlights the British Asian lifestyle, drawing on themes relevant to their way of life. In a never-before-seen method, the soap showcases the British Asian community in its true form, taking away stereotype perceptions regarding the UK‘s largest ethnic group - the South Asians.

How many viewers are you catering to currently?

The channel is available to DTH provider Sky’s subscriber base of almost 11 million, as well as on the cable service Virgin Media’s M+ Pack.

Lamhe gives viewers the opportunity to view some of the most popular and award-winning shows in the history of South-Asian entertainment

How are you promoting Zee Lamhe in the UK?

The promotional plan of the new channel is designed to target the UK’s South Asian audiences through a complete 360 degree marketing plan across outdoor, print, TV, radio and the digital space. The mediums have been carefully selected to target the key pockets of the South Asian population spread in the UK to reach the almost three million strong South Asian community.

Since both Lamhe as well as Zing are free to air channels are you planning to take them pay anytime soon?

Zee operates along two models – its pay products and free-to-air offerings – both with distinct offerings. The premium pay products are Zee TV, Zee Cinema and Zee Punjabi. Lamhe offers a free to air window into the GEC space; it is a platform to celebrate the best in the genre of South-Asian dramas and Bollywood Classics. Zing is the UK’s number 1 Asian Lifestyle channel, delivering the best variety of the glamour of Bollywood – music, movies and news. Both channels offer content not accessible on other channels in the UK, which is why we want maximum viewers to enjoy it for free, with no current plan on making the channels subscription based.

With the current line-up of shows that you have to offer, are you also looking at including more shows and if so, which ones?

Lamhe gives viewers the opportunity to view some of the most popular and award-winning shows in the history of South-Asian entertainment, including classics such as:

  • Astitva - a popular series, winning many awards in 2005, focusing on the strength and courage of women’s identity.
  •  
  • Amanat - one of the most popular Hindi television shows of its time that received the highest television ratings among many of 2000’s Hindi language shows in India.
  •  
  • Hasratein - one of the most popular television shows of the 1990s, looking at the bold topic of extra-marital relationships.
  •  
  • Kasamh Se - among the top shows in India in 2008, featuring the trials and tribulations of three sisters.

The channel will also highlight the magnanimity of Bollywood with classic movies, featuring the best of evergreen stars such as Rishi Kapoor, Dev Anand, Kishore Kumar, plus a Raj Kapoor special season at the weekends. We are delighted to already receive great enthusiasm towards this content, with many requests for other classics that people are eager to watch again. We will be monitoring this in line with the remit of presenting the best of South Asian entertainment.

We will be monitoring the feedback, researching and accordingly selecting the content that would connect with the audiences for Lamhe

Since Zing is targeted at the youth and Lamhe is bringing back memories from the times passed, which is the target audience group that you are looking at?

Lamhe is targeted at an audience that will enjoy the best in the genre of dramas and classic movies. Its content is relevant to both younger and older viewers due to the nature of the topics explored by the selected shows and also the treatment of the programming. The selected shows portray topics that were ahead of their times when they were first aired. They focus on strong storylines and their edit patterns mean they are more real to life, compared to many of today’s shows, which holds for an appeal to an international audience.

Lamhe also endeavours to bring back memories of the time when Zee TV was the only Asian channel in the UK enthralling viewers and Zee was their home away from home. With Lamhe, we want to gift our viewers an opportunity to experience those beautiful memories once again.

What kind of content would you like to showcase in the coming months? Any movie rights acquisition going forward?

Lamhe’s content will be driven by what the viewers want to watch. We will be monitoring the feedback, researching and accordingly selecting the content that would connect with the audiences.

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