Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) will invest ₹100 crore to launch a second Hindi general entertainment channel, Zindagi.

In 2007, the Subhash Chandra-promoted network had launched a Hindi GEC, Zee Next, which was shut down within a year.

With the launch of Zindagi, it would also increase the content cost by nearly 15 per cent as Zindagi would have shows written by overseas authors and produced in places such as Pakistan and Latin America.

“Since fragmentation is the order of the day, we would rather lead with more channels. But it takes big bucks to launch a GEC. The launch phase would cost between ₹80-100 crore,” said Punit Goenka, MD & CEO, ZEEL. Having learnt from the mistakes of Zee Next, the network is getting equipped with bigger programming and marketing budgets this time. “There was bad execution and not enough sampling done for Zee Next, and today, we have distinct learning from our past experience,” said Goenka.

The network is also looking forward to attracting a new set of ‘premium’ advertisers, who may not have used the mass Hindi GEC genre in the past.

“We would also like to grow the GEC market and since Zindagi has a new ‘mass premium’ positioning, we hope to get a new set of advertisers who are resorting to other media such as print,” added Goenka.

Today, the bulk of TV advertising is skewed towards the mass Hindi GEC channels.

Last year, the network invested ₹150 crore on new channels such as Zee Anmol and Pictures, and digital verticals to increase revenue in a fragmented market.

But a cap on advertising inventory is making even its competitors like Star and Sony resort to new channels.

“With the ad inventory restriction of 12 minutes for an hour of programming, it has become common for most networks to launch more channels so that advertising revenues are not impacted,” said Navin Khemka, Managing Partner, Zenith Optimedia.

“Besides, it is natural for such companies to get a pie in the fragmentation of TV channels. However, the game is changing so channels need to monetise other revenue streams that look beyond advertising.”

Last year, with the cap on advertising, most TV networks were forced to raise ad rates by nearly 30 per cent for their Hindi GEC channels.

ZEEL has been trying to reduce its dependency on advertising revenue and is seeking new revenues from the digital space, where it has a host of brands.

Besides, there is growth in international subscription revenues at 16 per cent today compared to ad income, which has slowed down to 9-11 per cent for ZEEL.