Quick Biz with Neeraj Dhingra on ZEE UK

Raj Baddhan

Senior Editor

Neeraj Dhingra
Neeraj Dhingra

We put media executives in the hot seat for a set of quick-fire questions. In the first ‘Quick Biz’ session, BizAsia met up with ZEE Network UK/Europe CEO, Neeraj Dhingra about some burning questions. Here are the answers…

Zing is the most watched music and lifestyle channel in the UK, so what’s with the big revamp next month?
We are adding some local content to connect with the Brit Asian audience and help further increase the viewership. This will add to the already popular content on our channel. There will be shows like ‘Zing Top 10’ and ‘Brit Beatz’. Plus, we’re launching the first live Asian request show called ‘Jukebox Live’ from our London studios.

Some say that you are re-introducing British Asian music videos/Punjabi songs in response to good viewing numbers from Brit Asia TV’s Bhangra playlist shows?
This was being considered by us for several months now. There is a good collection of local Brit music videos and we would like to encourage this local talent hence the playlist. The good ratings and reviews on Brit Asia TV only reinforce our decision. ZEE Music was supporting the Brit Asian Music industry earlier, we have supported so many popular stars which is known to everyone. We took a gap and found that this industry has not given any big name in Bollywood which it used to when ZEE was supporting it. So, we have been planning it for sometime and now decided to start the ‘Brit Beatz’ and give the world a Brit Asian Star to the likes of Stereo Nation, Juggy D, Hard Kaur and many other renowned names.

Do you feel that shows such as ‘Pyar Tune Kya Kiya’, which have done well on Zing in India, will do as well in UK?
We introduced this show on Zing here in the UK couple of months back and the ratings are very good. We will add similar shows in the future which cater to a younger audience.

Do you not feel adding movies to Zing is cannibalizing your movie content on ZEE Cinema?
The positioning of this channel is Bollywood and lifestyle. Films are an integral part of this channel and we felt that an evening movie will be well received by the audience. The movies which we play here are focused on our Zing audience and youth oriented, edgy and with a zing. These are complementing our movies on premier channel ZEE Cinema.

'Entertainment' on ZEE Cinema
‘Entertainment’ on ZEE Cinema

ZEE Cinema is tweaking its schedule with “scattered” start-time for movies from next month (like UMP Movies), why is this?
For the best viewer experience, we are starting seamless start of movies on ZEE Cinema. We will give our loyal viewers a treat where they will not have to wait between their favourite movies. This is for best cinematic experience. We are already giving our viewers the best onscreen experience by showcasing all movies the best possible bandwidth compared to most Bollywood movies channel. It’s a further enhancement of viewers experience.

With news channels doing better than previously, do you feel sense of regret by abandoning launch of ZEE News in UK?
We still feel that News is a difficult business to be in in the UK/Europe. There are several Indian news channels which are already here. Even though the ratings have improved the viability is still under question. On the other hand the Pakistani News channels have done exceedingly well. We have to still understand their formula.

ZEE Punjabi
ZEE Punjabi

With PTC Punjabi regularly attracting a weekly reach of over 250,000 viewers, what does the future say about ZEE Punjabi?
We are investing in this channel and acquiring new content. We will push this channel to our premium audience especially with the Punjabi drama series where we have exclusive content. With the launch of the Sky Asia Pack the overall reach of this channel has gone up significantly and ZEE Punjabi has a higher viewership.

The ICC Cricket World Cup (Hindi commentary) was a raging success for ZEE Network UK back in 2011, did your deal with Sky Asia Pack scupper your plans to re-bid for the rights seeing as Sky Sports retains the UK rights?
We are in talks regarding this and will let you know very soon. Keep watching ZEE TV.

ZEE Network UK is a part of the Sky Asia Pack on Sky Digital and Asian Mela on Virgin Media. Zing and Lamhe are available free-to-air on Sky Digital.