Mumbai: Since its inception in 2020, Zee Entertainment Enterprises’ first lifestyle channel, Zee Zest, has established itself with a diverse and comprehensive lineup of shows.
Zee Zest, which is known for its global content, hosts a great mix of Indian and international lifestyle and infotainment shows.
The channel's content includes food, travel, lifestyle, home improvement, wellness, culture, and do it yourself (DIY). Apart from producing travel category shows including Kahani Kashmir Ki, Shonar Bengal, Safari India, Mast Maharashtra, and Goan Gullies, the channel also has highly popular food shows like Patt-ay ki baat, Taste Ki Gully, Papad Pickles Aur Pyaala, Simple Korea, and The Baker's Table.
In an exclusive conversation with Indiantelevision.com, Zee Zest's business head Amit Nair talked about the content & business strategy for Zee Zest shows. With a key focus on bringing original content to the platform, Nair added 100+ hours of original content every year across food & travel, in partnership with award-winning chefs, anchors, influencers, celebrities, and hosts. From documenting the evolving Indian culture and contextualizing it for modern sensibilities, he created a contemporary brand identity for both Living Foodz and Zee Zest, on-air, online, and on-ground.
By delivering substantial revenue growth through a combination of advertisements, subscriptions, and syndication, Nair oversees all major functions of the brand, including business strategy, content, editorial, marketing, and product development.
With over 10 years of experience at Zee Zest, he was instrumental in the acquisition of major international titles and the development of relationships with top international distributors such as BBC, Freemantle and Banijay. He also built mega tent poles, including "Ganga–The Soul of India'' with Dia Mirza, "Station Master’s Tiffin" with Ranveer Brar, and "Fit, Fab and Feast" with Huma Qureshi.
On Zee zest’s viewership
Amit: Zee Zest’s viewership is always in the top ranking. They have overshadowed their competitors every year. We have 40 per cent market share. There are five or six players in this market, and we always keep 40 to 42 per cent viewership as our benchmark to be there.
On Indian content growth
Amit: We are looking at a high-growth strategy right now. So we are investing significantly in content. Indian stories have more takers than international stories. When you create content for India or the Indian market, there are many more takers as compared to international stories. Our primary goal is to produce original content from India.
On the importance of user-generated content
Amit: Zee Zest is looking forward to collaborating with content creators to develop unique content, preferably recipe shows. Audiences watch user-generated content to be entertained as well as to learn something.
User-generated content has its importance, and it's something that we've also been keenly looking into because certain formats want to develop where a user is a central person where we can develop ideas and content around them.
There are several formats currently. The easiest is the one where, if it's a food show, you invite them to be part of the audience or share something that's part of the entire theme of the particular show.
Zee Zest will soon focus on user-generated content where users want to express themselves, their skills, and their talents. We are trying to balance this entire thing by keeping audiences engaged but at the same time engaging with our advertisers and with the users as well so that we bring them on a platform that gives them better reach.
On Zee Zest’s online reach
Amit: The channel has about three million users per month and is among the top 15 websites in the country. It's a multi-platform brand. We don't want Zee Zest to be just a television-centric brand. Since our users search for us or various media, they are different from TV. As a publishing platform, it makes perfect sense for us to not only provide a platform to watch a point of view, but also to serve as a handy guide for their lifestyle.
The social media platform offers recipes and interactive content as a way to make it happen, while the channel offers interesting viewing content. Web platforms and events have become the two-way communication channels between the audience and the brand.
Zee Zest is investing in the web platform as well. We're also looking to buy a couple of untitled Intellectual Properties (IPs) this year, which will be mostly online. So several more ideas are being put into play. And all of this will be taking shape next year.
On the competition in the OTT space
Amit: Interest among the audience has remained unchanged. We always find our audiences when there is new content because that is when we create content that is entirely original, new, and innovative. It's a mix of finding and wanting the content rather than the medium, which is particularly important.
On regional collaborations
Amit: Zee Zest, along with the network’s sub-channels (regional channels), is venturing into various regional collaborations. While Mast Maharashtra and Sonar Bengal are already on Zee Zest's channel, the upcoming show Highway Dream will start in mid-September and will be on Zee’s south sub-channel. There are a lot of insights, knowledge, audience insights, and so on.
On new content and ideas
Amit: We have a great ideation cell internally, which manages to churn out some interesting formats and ideas. Now, these ideas are also taken to advertisers, where they find fitment. The newly launched eight-episode series Luxe Pins aims to let the audience experience exclusivity through the host's eyes.