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Anniversary Special: A walk through Zee Café’s 20 Glorious Years of shaping the English entertainment genre

Celebrating 20 years of we-time with viewers, here’s a channel that has broken the mould with the best of English entertainment through the years.

“It all started with the big bang!” as goes the title track of the longest running sitcom on television - The Big Bang Theory. And indeed, that’s how the English entertainment genre took off in a heterogeneous and multi-cultural, India. 2000s was truly a year of innovation and growth, one where the world was at the brink of change. Interestingly, that’s also when the Indian viewer took towards consuming and appreciating international content. However, back in the day, this audience segment formed a sliver of the pie. It was only with early entrants like Zee Café that the appetite for English entertainment was truly nurtured with the channel consistently curating new content, leading to this community growing manifold.

Since its inception in 2000, Zee Café has played a pivotal role not just in consumption of international content but also nurturing viewers’ lifestyles and cultures. Ringing in 20 glorious years of unparalleled entertainment, the channel commemorates this undying bond with viewers, being the force behind families and friends coming together and spending quality we-time over the best of English entertainment on Zee Café.

For content that is foreign, familiarity is built through consistent exposure to culture and curation. In its exciting 20-year journey, Zee Café has consistently pushed the envelope when it comes to setting industry benchmarks. For instance, being the pioneers when it comes to original programming with India’s first-ever English fiction show ‘Bombay Talking’, Zee Café brought in relevance with content that is locally nuanced for the Indian viewer. What followed was introduction of successful properties such as ‘Look Who’s Talking with Niranjan’, ‘Not Just Supper Stars’ and ‘Starry Nights’ that catered to viewers’ raging desire to follow their favourite celebrities. Another, was a necessary innovation by bringing in subtitles that broadened the appeal to a wider audience at a time when viewers were still warming up to international content.

As viewers evolved, so did their lifestyles and preferences. The hyper-connected and internet-savvy generation was hungry for content that is fresh and trending. However, early 2000s had the English category rely on shows that are dated. It was only with Zee Café being one of the early players, that viewers were introduced with shows that aired ‘Along With The US.’ An initiative like this not just satiated their need to follow the latest trends but also paved the way to a new wave in television programming. Over the years, the channel diversified into more and more untapped territories with the introduction of British dramas with ‘BBC First’ – a first in a category dominated by American-content. Another was bringing the scale and grandeur of Hollywood with dramas that stimulated viewers intellect and kept them on the edge with the flagship block ‘Hollywood On Café.’

A cumulative consequence of this was an audience that is engaged, enthused and exposed, thus feeding into their growing need of seeking international content that is fresh and compelling. Truly being the destination to hangout with an assortment of shows, Zee Café has aided the appetite for various English genres. Be it fueling pop culture with iconic Sitcoms such as ‘Seinfeld’, ‘Full House’, ‘Two And A Half Men’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory’ or stimulating viewers with carefully curated visceral and complex dramas such as the award-winning ‘The Loudest Voice’ ‘Counterpart S2’ and ‘McMafia’; the channel truly captivated viewers when it comes to English entertainment.

Today, with the plethora of platforms and viewing options, viewers are spoilt for choice. With the OTT boom, viewers are constantly challenged with decision-making, that ends up taking a chunk of their viewing time. Thus, curated viewing on television still is and will continue to remain relevant and with Zee Café the experience is enhanced as viewers continue to revel in the we-time spent together. By offering multiple binge options or a property dedicated to uninterrupted and ‘Uncut’ viewing, the channel continues to innovate with time and with ever-evolving consumer needs. With differentiated and successful campaigns such as #ShakenAndStirred that married the viewer need for intense experiences with quintessential British sensibility or #IdolInTheMaking that gave budding artists a platform to showcase their talent, Zee Café has truly elevated the experience from passive-viewing to more active and engaged viewing where viewers form the crux of the brand’s marketing strategy.

Being a trendsetter during the initial days of a growing genre and one to successfully journey through two promising decades of non-stop entertainment in itself speaks for Zee Café being the most-preferred destination for English entertainment. And on the occasion of this momentous feat, the brand truly stands by its promise to bring more of ‘We-time’ for years to come!