Zoom to foray into fiction, merchandising

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | June 04, 2010
The channel, which has been lying low for a while, hopes to strengthen its position in the market with its Bollywood offering

Zoom, after its pompous launch in 2004, was unable to make a clear mark in the market. From being a glamour lifestyle channel catering to the crème de la crème audience, the channel now offers Bollywood entertainment to the masses - and that seems to have worked for it.

Thinking back, Bala Iyengar, business head, Zoom says that the channel was quick to act on the learning. "We found out that while the lives of Page 3 celebrities are interesting - it is not perpetually so. The connotation of glamour in India has always been a derivative of Bollywood. We just shifted the lens from Page 3 to Bollywood, retaining the glamour. The life and times of Shobha De is fascinating but that of Shahrukh Khan is infinitely fascinating," he says.

So, while in 2006 Zoom was weighed along with channels such as AXN, Zee Cafe and STAR World, today it is slotted with channels such as MTV, 9XM, Bindass and Channel V. The target group (TG) is urban, upscale metro audiences in the age group of 15-34 years.

In the last few years, the channel has changed its positioning to reflect its heavy Bollywood offering. From 'Zoom into Bollywood' in 2007, it now promises '100 per cent Bollywood', with a view to be synonymous with Bollywood.

The channel began the year by hiking its ad rates. Zoom had to offer heavy price discounts to advertisers owing to the slowdown last year. In 2010, Iyengar says the price has been corrected.

"Zoom recorded a 10 per cent growth in revenues last year and this year, with the market looking up and with the price correction, we hope to increase revenues by 50 per cent," he adds.

Following IPL Season 3, Zoom launched eight new shows - music shows Discography and Zoom Box; series called Bollywood Revealed and Ring A Star; countdown shows Zoom Hot List, Tentalize and Stardum; and the newest addition, called Dynasty, which is also a feature.

Zoom hopes to get younger viewers onto the countdown shows and the 25- 34 year olds who like watching biographies of Bollywood personalities. The channel plans to launch new seasons of its shows every quarter to sharpen its positioning in the market.

The channel will soon foray into fiction with a series on crime and Bollywood, being produced by Milestone Productions. "We have no great expectations from it but it is what we think will be breakthrough programming. We hope viewers otherwise not interested in Zoom will tune in, thus broadening our audience base," Iyengar says. Based on the response, the channel may launch more such shows.

Zoom will also extend the brand into franchises such as apparels to begin with and is already in talks with brands. "Zoom should be a brand that is 'T-shirtable'. But before that, we need to build the brand to that stature," he says, adding that a considerable budget is set aside for the brand building and marketing of the channel. Besides, the channel also plans to launch interactive events aimed at bringing Bollywood closer to viewers.

Co-owned properties and syndication are the other two avenues of growth being considered by the channel. Having done quite a few such as Lets Design for Cotton Council International, Reebok Shiamak Bollywood Workout Launch and India Ka Fashion Star for Big Bazaar, advertiser funded programmes are key on its agenda. Iyengar says that almost 15 per cent of advertising revenues come from these.

Syndication is another source of revenue the channel is looking at aggressively. The channel has multiple partnerships with countries such as South Africa, Pakistan, the US and the UK and soon, with West Asia and Malaysia. Currently, 5 per cent of its total revenue comes from syndication. "We hope to raise that to 10 per cent this year. There is a huge market for Bollywood content overseas," Iyengar says.

As per TAM Media Research data, Zoom had garnered an average relative share of 9.4 per cent in May 2010 (C&S, 15+, HSM).

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