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Essel launches Living Foodz

New channel to focus on food and living; network's first infotainment channel, 4 more to come over the next 2 years

Urvi Malvania  |  Mumbai 

From left: Punit Goenka MD  and CEO ZEEL, Subhash Chandra, chairman (Essel), Rajiv Kheror, president strategy & planning, (International Business) (ZEEL), Piyush Sharma, CEO Zee Living - APAC, Amit Nairbusiness head Living Foodz
From left: Punit Goenka MD and CEO ZEEL, Subhash Chandra, chairman (Essel), Rajiv Kheror, president strategy & planning, (International Business) (ZEEL), Piyush Sharma, CEO Zee Living - APAC, Amit Nairbusiness head Living Foodz

Subhash Chandra's Essel Group launched Living Foodz, its first infotainment channel and second channel to focus on the food genre after Zee Khana Khazana in Mumbai today. It has already signed up popular chefs, restaurateurs and food aficionados like Ranveer Brar, Gautam Mehrishi, Rocky and Mayur, Vicky Ratnani, Kunal Kapur and Rakhee Vaswani for the channel.

Living Foodz is part of the Living Entertainment brand of channels. Living is the third cluster of channels to be launched by the Essel group, which over the next 18 to 24 months, will bring four more under the Living brand into India: Z Living, Living Homez, Living Travelz and Living Rootz (in no particular order). Z Living is already available in the international market and was operating under the brand name Veria till last year. Living Entertainment is part of the cognitive entertainment (or infotainment) space which currently is dominated by the Indian arm of the American Discovery network. The Essel Group owns the Living brand channels while Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) led by Punit Goenka, Subhash Chandra's son will distribute these channels as its local licensed entity. Currently, the Essel network is present in the Hindi, English and regional entertainment space (under the Zee brand), sports (under the Ten brand) and news (a separate entity under Zee Media).

ZEEL distributes 40 plus channels, the latest series will be under the Living Entertainment brand
  • Entertainment: under Zee brand across Hindi, English and regional languages, includes &TV and & Pictures
  • News: Zee News and Zee Business (owned by Zee Media Ltd)
  • Sports: Ten Sports
  • (NEW) Infotainment: Living Foodz

Subhash Chandra chairman, ZEEL and Essel Group believes that this channel is a first of its kind. 'The programming has a very different flavour. While it operates in the cognitive entertainment sphere, we are the first Indian/ Asian company to actually produce such content.' Explaining the dual structure of ownership and distribution for the new channel, Chandra said, 'ZEEL recently launched &tv and we felt that the shareholders should not be burdened with the expense of the launch of yet another brand so soon.

So ZEEL is the local licensed entity for the Living channels in India.'

The new channel will expand the bouquet and, Punit Goenka, MD and CEO ZEEL, said, perfectly complement it 'since we do not have infotainment channels.' Chandra has said in the past that he is keen to provide Indian content for global consumption. He had, in August, announced the launch of a global news network with an Indian perspective and further elaborated that this would be in line with the content offered by channels like the BBC and Al-Jazeera.

The new set of channels is in keeping with this vision he said. 'There are different categories of content a network can produce. First is local content for local audience. The second is taking this local content to audiences overseas by customising (dubbing or sub-titles) and the third category is creating content for the global audience. That is the stage we are at with the news network and Living Entertainment,' said Chandra.

For the Indian market, Living Foodz will be an international food and lifestyle channel. Calling this a 'foodtainment' channel, the team behind the launch said that it is targeted at both men and women across all age groups in urban digital households. And the aim would be to make Living Foodz available across the world.

The promoters are optimistic about the new channel given the rise in interest in food and food related shows in India. Plus, said Goenka, 'Thanks to the distribution deals we have been able to strike and the advertiser interest in the channel, I am certain Living Foodz will turn profitable in the first year itself. We have some anchor advertisers on board which takes care of the ad-inventory on the channels as well. Later we will look at branded content too.' The channel will be available across all DTH providers like Dish TV, Tata Sky, Airtel, Videocon and all other leading cable networks in Hindi and English.

Its competitors are channels from the Discovery Network, National Geographic, History TV18 and Fox Traveller. But Chandra believes that the Indian-ness of the content is what will set channels from the Living brand apart. Since nobody has been making content designed for Indian audiences, this will be a first in the genre. Nearly 75 per cent of the content will be produced in India while the rest will be imported from ZEEL's/Essel Group's productions abroad.

In order to distinguish itself from its peers, Living Foodz has adopted a different packaging and uses more images of food and people interacting with the food. Also, the font used in the logo and the packaging on the channel has adopted sharper edges, as opposed to the norm of using softer fonts by other channels in the genre.

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First Published: Thu, September 03 2015. 21:40 IST