General entertainment channel STAR Plus is trying out a new look. It seems that the channel is slowly and steadily trying to come out of kitchen politics and invent new genres of soaps.
The channel started its experimenting with a love story 'Kkavyanjali', which was followed by a comedy show, 'LOC' . Now, the channel is betting on another family drama blended in love story, 'Miilee', which will be launched on April 4 at 9 pm.
Shailja Kejriwal, creative director, STAR Plus, agrees, "Yes, we are experimenting, but with 100 per cent conviction. There has been a demand for newer kinds of soaps."
While 'Kkavyanjali' has already proved to be a success with high opening TVRs, 'LOC' has also managed a TVR of around 5 in Hindi speaking markets. The next bet from STAR Plus is 'Miilee'.
When asked whether the new show will help STAR Plus to bring in new sets of viewers,
Ajay Vidyasagar, senior vice-president, marketing and communication, STAR India, says, "It's not about getting in a new set of viewers. Instead, our aim is to retain the existing set of viewers."
"As a premier channel, we have always believed in providing variety to our viewers. Family dramas and kitchen politics have already been successful. But we believe that success can't be repeated, it has to be invented. And this can be done only with fresh variety of programmes," he adds.
Basabdutta Chowdhuri, general manager - Madison Media, Delhi says, "Too many serials on kitchen politics has certainly created a viewers' fatigue. The experimentation done by STAR Plus is a strategic move as it will freshen up the channel's programming line-up. And there is also a possibility that this could be the beginning of a new trend in the Indian television industry."
Both 'Kkavyanjali' and 'Miilee' are replacing the weekly one-hours shows in the 9 pm time band. Soaps such as 'Desh Mein Nikla Hoga Chand', 'Kehta Hain Dil' and 'Sanjivni' will have a natural ending, while 'Sara Akash' will shift to Fridays.
Guruprasad Rao, business director, Motivator, Mumbai, feels that replacing the weekly serials with a daily soap is a wise decision on STAR's part. "Daily shows have always performed better than the weekly shows. That's because a daily show typically increases the viewers' stickiness with the channel. Not only STAR Plus, even other channels such as Sony and ZEE have leveraged on this success formula," he says.
The story of 'Miilee' - an adaption of a successful Latin American show, "Wild Angel' - revolves around an orphan girl Miilee - brought-up in a convent - starts working as maid in a family, where a young guy from the family falls in love with her. As the family had lost a girl child a few years back, other members of the family also get affectionate with her.
However, Kejriwal objects to slotting the serial as a love story. She says, "Miilee is the story about a orphan girl, with lots of emotions, humour, and other positive and lively elements in it."
Love story between a maid and an owner sounds like a typical Bollywood story. Kejriwal defends. "The biggest differentiator is that the protagonist of the show is not a typical Indian maid as seen in an Indian middle-class family."
She adds, "Although the story is inspired from an international show, we have introduced some new characters in the story and also incorporated a few changes in the storyline so that it gels with the Indian audience."
As evident from its promos, Miilee looks like an upmarket show and certainly has the potential to draw in the young metro audience, but there are certain doubts about the small town viewers coming on to the channel for the show.
Kejriwal, very confidently, asserts, "The show will also bring in the SEC A and A+ viewers to STAR Plus, who have been very irregular with television viewing. And SEC B and C have always been the core viewers of STAR Plus. And in terms of age group, the show will cater to a wider cross section of viewers from 6-60 years of age."
Concurs Chowdhuri of Madison Media. Explaining the reasons behind her opinion, she says, "Miilee being an upmarket show certainly holds an aspirational value for the lower socio-economic group viewers. The other reason is that although the storyline revolves around a wealthy family, the lead protagonist of the show is a middle class girl, which will make the small town viewers relate to the soap."
"Even in the past, we have seen that shows such as Jassi..., which might not have managed very high TVRs but certainly gained viewers' attention and interest. The show also brought in new sets of viewers for Sony."
Even the promos for Miilee are aimed to increase family viewing. Vidyasagar says, "Through our on-air promos, we have tried to promote the other characters of the serial along with the lead character Miilee. This will help increase family viewing."
"We have two sets of on-air promos. One, where Miilee introduces other characters of the show and the second one where other characters such as Rahul, Karan and Dadi introduce Miilee," Vidyasagar adds.
The channel is going all out to promote the serial. Vidysagar says, "The title song (sung by Sonu Nigam) has been very popular and on public demand, we are launching a music album on this show."
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