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Zee World expands African footprint with customized content and local productions


Having brought all the glamour of Bollywood to Africa on Zee World, CEO Zee TV Africa Harish Goyal is looking to the continent to help take the company’s global viewership to the 1 billion mark by 2020.

Speaking at the MultiChoice Africa Content Showcase, alongside Business Head Ratna Siriah and Marketing Manager Linda Oliphant, Goyal said he was proud to see that Zee Worldhas become synonymous with Bollywood in Africa,thanks to the channel’s loyalviewership.

Zee World is a completely customized channel experience for mainstream audiences in Africa and is available exclusively on DStv (Channel 166) and GOtv (Channel 25).
“We started Zee World to bring Bollywood to mainstream audiences in a language everyone could understand,” said Business Head Ratna Siriah.
“The channel has been so successful because we’ve done a lot of research into Africa, to understand how people connect with Bollywood, and we’ve customised the channel and content, accordingly.” The levels of customisation on the channel are astonishing, with Siriah explaining that the team even researches the availability of traditional Indian ingredients for the channel’s trio of cooking shows in local markets, makes tweaks to the recipes and even sources substitute ingredients. “We also customise our movies and
series – a Bollywood movie is normally three hours long, so we’ve cut out a number of song and dance routines to make them more easily-consumable for the busy African market,” she said. “That said, we also get complaints about the songs we’ve cut out – people really want to see them – so we use these musical moments as fillers on the channel so nobody misses out on the full Bollywood experience.”

Feedback is important to the Zee World team, and they pay very close attention to social media. “Our fans are very active on our Facebook page, and we listen to what they have to say and take comments on board when making programming decisions,” said Siriah.

On the channel’s growth plans, Goyal said that the mainstream acceptance of
Zee World has encouraged the channel to make the move into other languages on the continent. “The next channel we are putting together will be in French, and it should be available before the end of this year,” he said.
“Next year, we have two more projects, in two other languages. Then we will be getting into content production, producing content locally in Africa and putting together programming that is even more relevant to the African market.” Siriah expanded: “We are also looking at bringing Zee TV original formats like Dance India, Dance to the continent and producing a local version. We will use local production partners and local talent and depending on how relevant the content is to our markets in the other 168 countries where we broadcast, we could consider showcasing that content elsewhere in the world.”

The MultiChoice Africa Content Showcase is a dynamic 5-day content extravaganza, which sees a host of DStv’s biggest channels, including Sony, SuperSport, Zee World, A+E, Disney, MTV Base, BET, Comedy Central, BBC and M-Net previewing their latest and greatest content, soon to be seen across the video entertainment services provider’s platforms. 

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