Forget kitchen politics on TV, get ready for a hearty laugh

By , agencyfaqs! | In | February 21, 2005
Comedy serials is the flavour of the season, say media planners

It started with SAB TV. Then came STAR One. And now, mass channels such as STAR Plus and Sony are following it. After delving into kitchen politics as a genre, the Indian television industry is looking forward to comedy as the next destination.

Anita Nayyar, executive director, Starcom Worldwide-North Operations, feels that it won't be right to make a statement that comedy is making a comeback on Indian television.

She says, "Comedy always had its share of loyal viewers. We have had channels such as SAB TV where comedy constituted 90 per cent of programming. Even newer channels such as STAR One have done well with comedy programming. It's just that the mass channels such as STAR Plus and Sony have never given weightage to comedy shows."

But there is a sudden change in the trend. Both STAR Plus and Sony are trying to strengthen their Friday line-up with comedy shows. While STAR Plus has launched a new show 'LOC' - based on a humorous relationship between two Pakistani and Indian families in the backdrop of a London restaurant, Sony has lined up a comedy chat show 'Batliwalla House No. 43' - a licensed adaptation of the hugely successful British series, 'The Kumar's at No. 42'.

Hiren Pandit, general manager, MindShare, is of the opinion that comedy as a genre will get a stronger platform now since they are being aired during prime time on mass channels such as STAR Plus and Sony.

He cites the example of 'Office Office', which he thinks, if aired on STAR Plus, would certainly generate much higher TVRs. Pandit says, "Comedy certainly has a loyal viewership, even if it doesn't get very high TVRs. And, with comedy making a comeback on mass channels' prime time, the sampling opportunity would be more leading to a higher TVR."

A Delhi-based media planner reveals the motive behind the sudden inclination towards comedy show by mass channels. She is of the opinion that comedy shows will help the mass channels to bring in a new set of viewers. She says, "While planning media for a male-oriented product, we typically go in for an English channel or a news channel. The reason behind this was that mass channels with their popular daily soaps still have a majority of female viewers."

Comedy shows are very popular among males and viewers in the SEC A&B categories. This category of viewers watch television for entertainment and comedy shows are very refreshing for them. An interesting trend is that although this segment of viewers are not very regular TV viewers, they do watch comedy shows on an appointment basis.

According to Sandeep Tarkas, chief executive, Media Direction, "Although comedy was present on Indian television through SAB TV, the latter being a small player couldn't create ripples in the industry." The big difference was the success of comedy shows on STAR One, which in turn inspired the industry. He says, "It's only the comedy shows which revealed a promising future for STAR One. And thus, comedy became the flavour of the season."

Both STAR Plus and Sony have lined-up their comedy programmes on Friday prime time. That's because Fridays have never been very strong for these channels. The channel bosses hope that these comedy shows will help generate high TVR numbers on these days.

Tarkas feels on Fridays, viewers like watching lighter kind of shows as the week is full of serious drama shows. He says, "The comedy shows would help the channels strengthen their Friday line-up. Did you notice how Sony managed a stronger Friday with programmes such as CID and now Indian Idol."

Comedy shows also have their share of problems. The category is considered to be the writers' genre and tends to become very predictable after a few episodes. This is why there's an international trend of limiting the episodes of a comedy show, instead of letting them drag on. Even, STAR One is trying the same formula.

Pandit of MindShare feels that the strategy extends the life of comedy shows. He says, "In India, a comedy series should be of a maximum 26 episodes; it must come back with a fresher look." He cites the example of the successful transformation of 'Khichdi' on STAR Plus, which returned as 'Instant Khichdi' on STAR One.

STAR One, incidentally, is trying to experiment with the same formula with Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai.

Tarkas of Media Direction says, "This strategy will certainly help the channel fight the viewer's fatigue. The Indian viewers are matured enough to accept this already proven international formula of success for comedy shows."

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