New Delhi: Broadcaster Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd on Wednesday announced the launch of a new Hindi entertainment channel called &TV to garner a share of the Rs.6,000 crore advertising pie in the segment.
This is the second channel under the & (ampersand) brand name that the group has launched after &pictures aimed at younger audiences seeking differentiated content.
“Zee is for the Hindi heartland and traditional viewers. &TV is for viewers with a contemporary mindset,” managing director and chief executive Punit Goenka said. The company operates close to 30 channels in genres such as Hindi, English and regional entertainment, film, music and lifestyle.
&TV will be launched in March 2015 with 20 to 21 hours of original programming with a Premier non-fiction property being a game show titled ‘India Poochega: Sabse Shaana Kaun?’.
It will be launched along with the channel that will be produced by Big Synergy, it has been adapted from an international format ‘Who’s Asking’ by Israel-based Armoza. The show will mark the come-back of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan to TV media as host.
The time is ripe for more channels in Hindi entertainment, Goenka said, because the category is growing at 12% a year in terms of advertising and expected to grow further as the economy improves.
Zee is not the first broadcaster to add to its Hindi entertainment portfolio under a different brand. Star India Pvt Ltd, which operates the Star bouquet, launched the OK brand with the Hindi channel Life OK. In August last year, Multi-Screen Media Pvt. Ltd added Sony Pal to its flagship brand Sony.
“& is a symbol of revaluation and the channel has been conceptualized to depict change, stay contextual and contemporary,” said Rajesh Iyer, business head for &TV.
The channel is based on research carried out two years ago that resulted in the launch of &pictures. “Zee stands for certain values and concepts while &TV fiction will not come with any audience baggage. We are not worried about turning off our loyal Zee viewers here,” Goenka said.
Minus its sports channels, Zee claimed it posted an advertising growth rate of 17% in the December quarter.
Between January 2014 and January 2015, the cable and satellite television universe increased by 11% from 145 million to 161 million households, according to the latest data from television viewership monitoring agency TAM Media Research.
The total Hindi entertainment genre’s share in 2014 grew only marginally to 31.19% from to 30.53% in 2013. Meanwhile, Zee posted an increase of 43.5% in net profit to Rs.306.5 crore for the quarter ended 31 December on account of strong growth in advertising revenue.
Revenue from sales and services including film distribution increased 268% to Rs.175 crore from Rs.47.6 crore a year ago. Total revenue increased 14.8% to Rs.1,363.7 crore. Revenue from advertising increased 8.5% to Rs.742.6 crore from Rs.684.3 crore in the same period last year, while subscription revenue declined 2.3% to Rs.446.1 crore.