India Digs into New Food Channels

Former Niche Now Sees Wide Buffet of Offerings

NEW DELHI -- Food seems to be the new flavor among broadcasters, with three new channels being served up.

Leading Indian broadcasting group Zee Entertainment will spin off its long-running cookery show Khana Khazana (Food Treasure) into a full-fledged channel beginning on Wednesday.

Slated for launch early next year is FoodFood, a joint venture between Malaysia’s Astro All Asia Networks and top Indian celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s television company Turmeric Vision. A former executive chef at a leading hotel group, Kapoor became a household name hosting Zee's Khana Khazana show since 1993 which aired on the network's flagship Hindi entertainment channel Zee TV and still continues to be a top-rated show.

“Food is the new entertainment," said Astro Group India and South Asia executive director Raghvendra Madhav. “Our core target is the middle class Indian in urban towns and cities. With FoodFood we are set to redefine food content in India.”

Rounding off the menu of new channels will be Food First from Alva Brothers Entertainment, a content production entity which runs a joint venture with Turner Broadcasting that launched now defunct Hindi entertainment channel Real.

Slated for launch early next year, Food First will be part of ABE's Real Lifestyle Network, which plans to launch various lifestyle channels. “With Food First and the channels that are to follow, we’re going about building new broadcast categories that will set benchmarks for value, quality, relevance and entertainment for Indian consumers,” said ABE group CEO Nikhil Alva.

Meanwhile, broadcasting group New Delhi Television saw its lifestyle channel NDTV Good Times hosting its first-ever food awards over the weekend. As part of its diversified programming lineup, English-language lifestyle channel NDTV Good Times also includes a menu of food shows such as the popular Highway On My Plate and Italian Khana.

“Indians are a passionate lot and few things unite us more than our common passion for food. NDTV Good Times has promoted a wide range of food shows spanning cuisines, social strata and tastes. The aim of our Food Awards is to celebrate this insatiable appetite for food and acknowledge those who delight us with their extraordinary culinary efforts," NDTV Lifestyle CEO Smeeta Chakrabarti said. 

In May, NDTV terminated an agreement with Scripps Networks Inc. that would have allowed Scripps to acquire a 69% stake in NDTV's lifestyle programming subsidiary NDTV Lifestyle for $55 million.

News Corp.'s flagship Hindi entertainment channel StarPlus recently launched a local version of MasterChef hosted by top Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, while the show's original Australian version airs on the network's English channel StarWorld.