Aparna Bhosle

Afaqs!Re­porter pro­filed the re­cently ap­pointed busi­ness head of Zee TV.

The Brand Reporter - - EDITORIAL | CONTENTS - By Su­raj Ram­nath su­raj.ram­nath@afaqs.com

The newly-ap­pointed busi­ness head of Zee TV shares her tale of how she got into the me­dia world af­ter work­ing with liquor brand Di­a­geo and her goals for Zee TV.

Aparna Bhosle (46) who was re­cently ap­pointed busi­ness head of Zee TV and also con­tin­ues to lead FTA chan­nels was pre­vi­ously han­dling the pre­mium clus­ter as well. She joined Zee En­ter­tain­ment En­ter­prises in Fe­bru­ary 2012 as pro­gram­ming head for ZeeQ and was then pro­moted to busi­ness head of Zee An­mol and ZeeQ.

Un­der Aparna’s lead­er­ship, Zee An­mol went from No. 4 to No. 1 in GEC rank­ings. She played an im­por­tant part in the launch of ZEEL’s English movie chan­nels - &Prive HD and &flix - and get­ting pre­mium con­tent to Zee Café.

Dur­ing a chat with afaqs! Re­porter, Aparna shares her tale of how she got into the me­dia world af­ter work­ing with liquor brand Di­a­geo and her goals for Zee TV.

“I did my MBA in Mar­ket­ing from Jam­nalal Ba­jaj In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment Stud­ies and Di­a­geo was my first job. On cam­pus, we had some­thing called a ‘dream com­pany’. The minute you get your ‘dream com­pany’, you’re out. At the time, Di­a­geo was com­ing to cam­pus and my only rea­son for putting them as my ‘dream com­pany’ was be­cause this was in 1995 and there were no women in the liquor in­dus­try in In­dia, bar­ring Manohar Ch­habria’s daugh­ter Ko­mal Ch­habria. Of course, she owned the com­pany. I wanted to see what made it so spe­cial that ap­par­ently only men could do it. I was there for a lit­tle over four years,” she says.

In usual cir­cum­stances, peo­ple have a job in hand and then quit their ex­ist­ing em­ployer, but that’s not been the case with Aparna. “When I switch off in a job, I switch off. I launched the ‘Keep Walk­ing’ cam­paign for John­nie Walker and the gov­ern­ment was com­ing down hard on al­co­hol and against sur­ro­gate ad­ver­tis­ing. I was ad­ver­tis­ing a sur­ro­gate brand and got re­ally sick of do­ing the same thing all the time. So, I moved on and was home for lit­tle over a month with­out a job,” she shares.

While hol­i­day­ing dur­ing that break, Aparna met some­one who men­tioned that Wis­den was set­ting up a team in In­dia. “I had no idea what Wis­den was. I later found out that it’s ‘the bi­ble’ for cricket, a sport I detest. Some­how, that worked in my favour. They of­fered me the job and I was just the first or se­cond em­ployee. We set up the com­pany and got Sam­bit Bal on board to launch Wis­den Asia Cricket, a mag­a­zine,” she says.

At Wis­den, Aparna was part of de­sign­ing prop­er­ties such as Wis­den In­dian Crick­eter of the Year and Wis­den Crick­eter of the Cen­tury. “Also, the name Wis­den car­ries a lot of weight so if you de­sign TV pro­grammes around that, the coun­try would be pretty crazy about it. Hence, we launched those events. And then, dur­ing the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy in Sri Lanka and World Cup in South Africa, we de­signed Predikta be­cause peo­ple love gam­bling. Of course, we couldn’t have given away a cash prize, but we had plenty of spon­sors to give away things like shoes, bags, fridges, etc. Elec­trolux and Pepsi were the big spon­sors,” she elab­o­rates.

Aparna worked with Wis­den for four years be­fore she left. “While watch­ing the In­dia vs Pak­istan semi-fi­nals at Pre­to­ria, an rather ex­cit­ing match, I re­alised that the next high in my ca­reer would only come four years later and I didn’t want to do it any­more, so I re­signed,” she ex­plains.

Af­ter that Aparna was on a break for a cou­ple of months when she re­ceived a call from a head­hunter say­ing Ron­nie Screw­vala was launch­ing a kid’s chan­nel. “UTV was a strange story. I have a mar­ket­ing de­gree and did mar­ket­ing for Di­a­geo and mar­ket­ing and sales for Wis­den. I de­cided that I didn’t want to do mar­ket­ing or sales any more and wanted to learn some­thing new,” she high­lights.

She ap­plied for the job, was in­ter­viewed by Ron­nie Screw­vala, the founder of UTV at the time and cracked the in­ter­view, but for a role in mar­ket­ing. “At that point, I said ‘thank you, but it’s some­thing I re­ally don’t want to do. Is there any­thing else?’ Ron­nie asked me if I knew how a chan­nel ran to which I said no but was cu­ri­ous none­the­less. He told me about dis­tri­bu­tion where I’d have to deal with ca­ble op­er­a­tors and I didn’t want to do that. He then told me about sev­eral other posts in mar­ket­ing and op­er­a­tions, nei­ther of which in­ter­ested me. And then spoke about pro­gram­ming. I asked if it meant choos­ing pro­grammes for TV and he ad­mit­ted it was a lit­tle tougher than that. I got the job and launched Hungama TV. Within a year and a half we took Hungama TV to the No. 1 spot,” she de­tails.

Aparna gives Za­rina Me­hta, Screw­vala’s spouse, all the credit for what she is to­day. “Za­rina has had a huge in­flu­ence on me. Most of the stuff I have learnt in the me­dia is be­cause I worked very closely with her. The en­tire credit for the suc­cess that Hungama TV could even achieve was be­cause of the men­tal­ity that it is an In­dian chan­nel, tak­ing on Car­toon Net­work and Pogo which had deep pock­ets, un­like us. I’m still very thank­ful for her guid­ance sup­port.”

Dur­ing that pe­riod, Dis­ney first ac­quired Hungama TV and then UTV group af­ter three years.

“That’s when I had to leave. Ac­tu­ally, if it wasn’t for the buy­out, I would not have left Ron­nie and Za­rina; I truly en­joyed work­ing with them. They liked to take chances, fail and learn from that; it’s not some­thing you find in a lot of peo­ple,” she adds.

Post the ac­qui­si­tion, Aparna worked with Dis­ney for a brief pe­riod and re-launched the Jetix chan­nel as Dis­ney XD. Later on, she moved to FoodFood for two years. How­ever, be­cause of the un­cer­tainty post the 2G scam and the par­ent com­pany As­tro, not be­ing able to en­ter In­dia, she quit and joined Zee En­ter­tain­ment En­ter­prises where she will soon com­plete seven years.

The BARC data for week 38 shows Zee TV at No 4 in the Ur­ban + Ru­ral and Ur­ban mar­kets.

When talk­ing about her goals for Zee TV, Aparna shares, “Some big launches hap­pened dur­ing Q2 and Q3. I think we will sus­tain, but don’t know if we will make a leap in terms of rank. My long-term goal, of course, is for us to ex­cel. That means you take a chan­nel to the top, ide­ally, or the No. 2 spot. I am a lit­tle dif­fer­ent with every genre be­cause of my FMCG ground­ing and I’m very process ori­ented. Un­like FMCG, in me­dia where cre­ativ­ity is in­volved, it comes with giant emo­tions. Teams are work­ing with emo­tions day in and day out, so you tend to do the job emo­tion­ally and cir­cum­vent some pro­cesses, but that al­ways takes a toll. We don’t want to be process ori­ented but make sure there are pro­cesses in place that as­sist ev­ery­body in the end, to be­come a for­mi­da­ble player in GECs.” ■

Un­der Aparna’s lead­er­ship, Zee An­mol went from No. 4 to No. 1 in GEC rank­ings. She played an im­por­tant part in the launch of ZEEL’s English movie chan­nels - &Prive HD and &flix - and get­ting pre­mium con­tent to Zee Café.

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