On a burning hot afternoon, a neighbour wouldnt let one rest because there is a channel called Zee World, which is apparently not enjoyed except if tuned to its highest volume.
In the salon, a customer is 'tortured' or blessed (depending on whose side you are on) with hours of Zee World. For three consecutive weeks, the most read articles on Pulse.ng/movies have been articles related to Zee World.
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So I ask, what's the Zee World craze in Nigeria?
Nollywood filmmaker, Uduak Isong, once described Telemundo as a challenge in Nollywood. "We have major challenges, there’s piracy, there’s poor distribution, and there’s Telemundo," she said. I would replace Telemundo with Zee World, or probably just add Zee World to the list of challenges in Nollywood as it effortlessly affects consumption of local content in Nigeria.
Prior to creation of Zee World in 2015, a week wouldn't go by without a broadcast of a Bollywood TV series on a Nigerian TV station. In February 2015, the station was launched on DSTV, creating a specific channel for Bollywood TV series and movies.
There's Telemundo, there is Africa Magic, and then there is Zee World. But, what is the appeal? Why do Nigerians prefer a Zee World content to local content? I carried out a survey to understand the popularity of 'Zee World' in Nigeria, and the data collected are summarized below.
60% do not watch Zee World.
90% know someone who watches Zee World.
40% of Zee World viewers are addicted to the channel and can watch it all day, especially on weekends.
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40% of the 60% who do not watch the channel, also do not watch Nollywood content.
70% think Telemundo is more popular than Zee World and Africa Magic in Nigeria.
One of the participants said she follows the channel because "there is less repetition of shows and also there's no fetish act." A die-hard fan of the channel said: "they have handsome actors, interesting storylines that would keep you glued to your screen."
"The Zee World shows are full of songs, love drama, and suspense that aren't always resolved in the way a Nollywood show would go about it," a 26-year-old fan said.
A group of people who do not watch the show blame their disinterest on 'poor quality stories,' 'unrelatable characters,' 'too emotional and annoying.'
Zee World keeps and grows its fan base with series like "The Vow," "Sacred Hearts," "Krishi," "Silver Linning" among others. Imagine having five shows you are addicted to, airing back to back every day of a week. There is no way they are sacrificing that for any Nollywood show.
Does Zee-World stifle local content? A die-hard fan said "It encourages variety. It's just something different, and there is nothing wrong with that." Another said "Of course, it does. Imagine if we had all Zee World fans addicted and appreciating local content with the same commitment."
Before Zee World and Telemundo, Nigeria had soaps like "Checkmate," “Cockcrow at Dawn”, “Mirror in the Sun” and “Behind the Clouds,” which enjoyed huge followings across the country. Many Nigerians looked forward to watching those shows. Years later, a decline in quality content truncated that era, birthing Nigerians with no interest in local content. Then came Zee World and Telemundo, a channel dedicated to providing them with the drama they considered worth enjoying.
In 2007, I remember being a die-hard fan of "El Cuerpo Deseo"(Second Chance) "Catalina and Sebastian," "When You are Mine" which aired on AIT. Following the launch of Telemundo, I followed shows like "My Heart Beats for Lola," and "Forbidden Passion" religiously. I also was once a fan of the Nigerian series "Tinsel" and Kenyan series "Kona." I was attached to various characters for different reasons. They brought out certain emotions - hate, love, anger among others.
Series like "Hush," "The Governor" are currently working towards winning back fans from the days of "Cock Crow at Dawn," "Jacob's Cross," and early days of "Tinsel." It's 2016, and Nollywood is creating local contents worth following religiously, but then Zee World and Telemundo won't just let them have their complete shine.
Before the launch of Zee World and Telemundo on DSTV, various Bollywood and Mexican telenovelas had average following, which kicked off an invasion into the Nigerian TV market, and is currently massive and stupendous.
Despite my survey, I am still a confused movie lover who is yet to understand the 'Zee World' craze in Nigeria.
But one thing is certain, beneath the overlay of songs and plot of their shows, is something that a very high number of Nigerians find appealing on Zee World.