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Zee Network is launching India’s first 24x7 food channel, Zee Khana Khazana, on December 8.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2010 21:12 IST
Anita Sharan
Anita Sharan
Hindustan Times

Zee Network is launching India’s first 24x7 food channel, Zee Khana Khazana, on December 8. Industry sources said that the channel’s test launch could be today.

So what happens to Zee TV’s hugely popular programme, Khana Khazana, which has been anchored by star chef Sanjeev Kapoor since its inception in January 1993? The sources say it will, if it continues, be one of the programmes on the new food channel.

It is not clear whether Sanjeev Kapoor will continue with the show, since he’s about to launch his own food channel, Foodfood, very soon, in association with Malaysia-based Astro. Content creation has already begun.

Alva Brothers Entertainment has also announced the launch of a dedicated food channel, the first of a bouquet of lifestyle channels it plans to launch through its Real Lifestyle Network. The food channel, FOOD first, will be launched in early 2011.

Television channels across the general entertainment and lifestyle categories are also full of food shows. While many have at least one food show — such as Colors’ Kitchen Champion — Discovery’s TLC is currently running at least 17 food shows. NDTV Good Times also has multiple food shows.

Star India network is running two versions of the same food show, MasterChef, on two of its channels —MasterChef Australia on Star World and MasterChef India on Star Plus.

For those TV networks that have launched regional channels, a food show invariably features in some time slot. Mejwani Paripurna Kitchen on ETV Marathi and Ranna Ghar on Zee Bangla are just two examples.

What’s so fascinating about food for TV channels? Talk to the channel people and they swear by their food shows.

Rahul Johri, senior VP and GM, India, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, said, “Food has traction. People like to see food shows. On TLC, our food shows are part of lifestyle and travel, not the white apron and cooking stove type. Among the multiple genres our programming covers under travel and lifestyle, our food and grooming shows are the most popular. Our food show, Chew, in the 1-2 pm slot, has seen viewership numbers double over the noon-1 pm slot.”

Star too, is very happy. MasterChef India has managed the highest reach (number of people watching an episode for over a minute) among all food shows between June and November, beating even Zee TV’s Khana Khazana by an impressive margin, according to TV viewership measurement agency, TAM. MasterChef India’s television viewership rating (TVRs) mostly ranges at 2.5-three per cent per episode.

MasterChef Australia does not have ratings as impressive as its desi counterpart. However, its reach puts it at the number three position among food programmes after MasterChef India and Khana Khazana.

Sanjay Gupta, COO, Star India, said, “If you can build drama around food, make it meaningful and build excitement around it beyond recipes, consumption and tasting, people enjoy it. Forty-eight hours before the India show went on air, we put up a video on the internet. We got 1.4 million unique video views, the highest we’ve got for any show. MasterChef Australia 1, which we showed earlier this year and did a feedback with viewers, had also got us good responses. We’re currently running MasterChef Australia 2 and are happy with the viewership interest.”

He added that while the core format remains the same for both shows, there is some level of localisation for the show in every country. So in India, the use of Akshay Kumar, while retaining the three-judge formula — Kunal Kapoor and Ajay Chopra, the other two judges, are well-known chefs. MasterChef is telecast in 14 countries, including India, and is under production in four more.

“Food is a great route to telling stories; it can lead to interesting conversations as long as it is done well. Akshay Kumar is our best mass connect — he enjoys food immensely and has cooked in the past,” Gupta said. “Beyond that, you learn as you go along. We are definitely considering seasons two and three for MasterChef India.”

While Star and TLC talk drama and conversations around food, the recipe-led Khana Khazana too has continued to retain high viewership reach over 17 years. Certainly, Sanjeev Kapoor has been a huge magnet — the show made him a celebrity.

While an interesting half-hour show on food may draw viewers, would people really be interested in 24x7 food channels? Discovery’s Johri says it would be challenging to fill up 24 hours. “Quality of the programmes and the repeat factor could pose challenges.”

Alva Brothers’ Real Lifestyle Network is not worried, though. Manisha Tripathi, business head, Real Global Broadcast, the group’s broadcasting company, said, “Affluence is rising in India, leading to aspirations for enhanced lifestyles. Food is a definite expression of lifestyle. An overall analysis of TV content reflects that food shows on lifestyle channels attract higher viewership. On the web, food-related searches are amongst the highest.”

She added: “Presenting some of the best food-focused programmes shot in high-definition, FOOD first will be featuring the biggest names in the world of food from across the globe. Our programmes will target upwardly mobile, English-speaking, 18-years-plus, male and female audiences.”

Channels are very positive about featuring food. As Star’s Gupta pointed out: “Most of India’s non-fiction programmes on TV are based on singing and dancing. Yet, only about five per cent of the country’s people sing and dance. In contrast, 60-70 per cent of India’s population enjoys food, can cook it or can talk around cooking. Now that’s a key thought.”

First Published: Dec 05, 2010 21:11 IST