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Essel's Living Foodz plans HD channel; eyes APAC expansion

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MUMBAI: It's been three months since Subhash Chandra's Essel Group launched its international food and lifestyle channel Living Foodz and plans are already afoot for expansion.

The channel is planning to launch its High Definition (HD) version in the coming year with separate programming. What’s more, with an emphasis on increasing the genre size and brand visibility in 2016, the channel is also planning to expand its footprint into the Asia Pacific region.

"The key player behind our success is the differentiated programming on our channel. The expansion will help us broaden our viewer base as well as increase subscription revenues. Expanding the client base here will be one of the key challenges in the coming months, but with Helios Media as our revenue partner, we are confident of setting new benchmarks in monetisation," Living Foodz business head Amit Nair tells Indiantelevision.com.

Living Foodz has outsourced its ad sales to Helios Media, a specialty services company for broadcasters headquartered in Mumbai. "Helios understands the clients well and manages to give them effective solutions. They cover a bunch of clients, which has led to an increase in the revenues," adds Nair.

The Living brand will manifest itself as a multi-platform brand business across various avenues like television, web, social platforms, mobile, etc.

On the content front, Living Foodz has ambitious plans in place for the food space in terms of reality and experiential cooking. The channel plans to launch big ticket properties every quarter and buzz creating shows in 2016. These key tentpole properties will drive viewership in a way that the audience finds the stories intriguing and entertaining. According to Nair, the audience needs Indian food stories with interesting anchors and chefs. "We are strategically targeting at the Indian subcontinent with an aim of supplying 100 per cent original home-grown content to our viewers," he says.

Moving out of the confines of a conventional kitchen into a world of entertainment and adventure, the channel will be exploring the evolving social status of food in the food ecosystem.

While Nair strongly feels that technology is not a barrier in India, lifestyle products or feature entertainment are still in a nascent stage to make the shift into 4K. "The infrastructure and the content that is available in India are not sufficient enough for a 4K conversion," he adds.

The food space has seen exponential growth and interest across the board from food technology to food discovery to the myriad food festivals that have become part of the calendar. "Today, audiences are willing to sample exotic culinary by travelling to that region. They are ready to push their boundaries to experiment. I think food as a lifestyle has arrived this year on. Celebrity chefs are now at the same level as a movie star or a sportsperson and it’s tremendously rewarding to see TV channels like Living Foodz playing such an important role in driving this zeitgeist," adds a media planning and buying veteran on condition of anonymity.

On the advertising front, Living Foodz has a diverse number of clients ranging from FMCG, automobile segment, home electronics, e-commerce, broadcasters, office equipment and pure lifestyle products along with the regular food category clients that advertise on the channel.

"Living Foodz ticks all the right boxes when it comes to the quality of content, packaging and exciting set of anchors and chefs. It all nicely comes together in what we like to call food-tainment. Advertisers have always played an aggressive role behind the success of a channel and are always looking out for premium audiences in the right space," says Nair.

Brands like Philips, Canon, Fitbit, Fortune, General Motors, HCL, Toyota and Go are already a part of the channel’s inventory. "The fact that food is lifestyle has now been established in the market with our meticulous positioning exercise. All the channels in the lifestyle segment have a substantial time devoted to food based content. Hence a lot of brands, which were earlier advertising in the lifestyle segment have started advertising with us," adds Helios Media COO Bala Iyengar.

Come February 2016, Living Foodz is also planning to launch its website with unique culinary experience for viewers. Additionally, keeping the constant partial attention of consumers in mind, the channel will also unveil a mobile application for the convenience of its viewers. This will enable consumers to lap up content on the go. The mobile application is also expected to be launched in early 2016.

Launch plans for Living Entertainment's four other channels, which were announced earlier this year, will be disclosed in 2016.

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