Zee Entertainment Stokes Appetite for Bollywood Movies Among U.S. Hispanic Viewers

Daniel Holloway

Count India’s Zee Entertainment Enterprises among the media companies focused on tapping into the buying power of Hispanic consumers in the United States.

Zee last month launched the first Spanish-language TV channel dedicated to Bollywood content. Zee Mundo presents Indian films from Zee’s library dubbed into Spanish — part of an aggressive international strategy for the company. It is also an attempt to reach an under-served audience with content it hasn’t yet been exposed to — and that Zee believes it is naturally inclined toward.

“We’ve been trying to take our content to distant geographies, and we’ve been doing this successfully for the last six years,” says Amit Goenka, Zee’s CEO of its international broadcast business. The company started with Arabic networks in the Middle East, followed by a German network. Zee Mundo is targeting expansion throughout Latin America. “Spanish of course is one of the largest, most spoken languages globally, therefore it definitely was one of our top priorities,” he says. Zee’s first carrier is Dish Latino, which has nationwide distribution throughout the United States.

Goenka recently spoke with Variety about the new venture.

What is the content for the network?
We have exclusive Bollywood movies in HD format, which we dub entirely and localize fully into Spanish. That’s primarily the focus of the content on the channel. We do have a few series that we will experiment with as well going forward. Those are high production-value series which we produced in India which got good traction in other markets.

What did you find in your research that led you to believe there was appetite in the Spanish-speaking market for Bollywood entertainment?
Bollywood movies are really meant for family viewing. That resonates well with the Hispanic and Latin American people, and that definitely came out in our research. And they love the dance, which came out very strongly in the research as well, which is not available to them in Hollywood content. So these are a few things that definitely resonated well. And it’s content that’s never been seen before in these markets. So it’s completely original and fresh and new for them.

How will you market to Hispanic viewers? Do you have to educate them about what Bollywood is or is there already an awareness?
I wouldn’t say that there is widespread awareness for the content. It’s definitely something that you would have to push for the market. And we have various marketing initiatives planned going forward as we see distribution is increasing in the respective geographies to market the content to this diaspora. A lot of Bollywood celebrities have been seen in Hollywood movies, so there is some recognition to Bollywood celebrities.

The TV marketplace is more competitive than ever — how will you stand out?
There is no other content provider out there who has this programming in this (region). So it’s unique. With our marketing initiatives, we expect a lot of traction as we move forward.

How does Mundo fit into your broader international strategy?
Internationally, with the Mundo launch, we’re already in nine languages outside the Indian languages, catering to the mainstream audience in the respective geographies. We expect to add more languages as we move forward. We’re aggressively working on new geographies to be announced shortly. Our objective apart from new geographies is to have some local programming. Extensively exporting content to geographies where there is no unlimited local production — that’s where the opportunity lies, I think, for us. They need some alternative to Hollywood, and I think Bollywood content is great in terms of production value.

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