Currying favour with the Indian middle class - Monocolumn | Monocle


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24 January 2011

If you broadcast it they will watch – and cook! At least that’s the mission behind Eat Eat, India’s first 24-hour all-food television network, which debuts in the subcontinent today. Aimed at India’s rapidly expanding middle classes, Food Food launches as a partnership between Indian celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor and Malaysian broadcaster Astro All Asia Networks. Food Food marks Astro’s second-ever Indian endeavour as well as the first Indian channel broadcast entirely in high definition.

Kapoor comes to Food Food as perhaps the world’s most media- and fiscally savvy Indian chef. His portfolio of Indian restaurant chains – Yellow Chilli, Kapoor Khazana, Hot Rocks – stretches from Delhi to Doha to Dubai, while his packaged foods, cook books and kitchen products sell briskly online.

Food Food, however, is a far more ambitious project – one that Kapoor spent half a decade nurturing. “We initially sought to launch Food Food some five years ago,” explains Kapoor, who first explored partnering with America’s mighty Food Network. “The audience was there, the market was ready,” he adds. But market conditions were not so favourable.

But an expanding Indian economy and the growth of digital media have provided the impetus for Food Food’s premiere. Aimed at an all-Indian audience, the content is entirely original and solely in Hindi – reflecting Kapoor’s view that only Indian media-makers can adequately serve such a niche Indian demographic. “We first considered buying foreign-made programming,” Kapoor explains, “but we could not find any that truly suited an Indian audience, their tastes and their cooking styles.”

While that audience will initially be found in India, Kapoor is confident Food Food will appeal to the Indian diaspora in the Persian Gulf, Europe and particularly Australasia. And that’s where Astro – and its $30m (€22m) investment – comes in. As Malaysia’s largest broadcaster – with a sizable footprint throughout Asia-Pacific – Astro has the scale to truly take Food Food global. 

“We are already present in upwards of six million Indian households,” says Raghvendra Madhav, CEO Astro India, “so given the breadth of our platform and the strength of the genre we have a solid footing to make Food Food a dominant lifestyle channel.”

Food Food will launch with four to six hours of original content daily – food-based reality shows, competitions, education clips, travel programmes and eats-meets-Bollywood items – all rebroadcast throughout the day. Ultimately, Food Food will produce hundreds of hours of programming each month, with English-language offerings already in the works and plans for potential syndication across the globe. Most crucially, armed with Astro’s broadcast might, Kapoor hopes to transform Food Food into a true multi-media, foodie-culture brand.

“We intend to establish a Food Food presence on every type of digital platform, including the internet, applications, mobile broadcast,” Kapoor says. “We see India as a test market of sorts, followed by our nearby neighbours and ultimately the UK and beyond.”


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