When Sony Entertainment Television (SET) took over & #BANNER1 & # SAB TV in April this year, speculation was rife about how the channel would be revamped. The wait seems to be over now, for SAB TV has announced that it will change its positioning from a pure comedy channel to a general entertainment channel (GEC). Starting November 7, SAB TV will launch a new logo (with the trademark Sony symbol and 'SAB' written below it, the way it is with SET MAX). The channel has already shifted from being a free-to-air channel to a pay channel six months ago.
Commenting on the new positioning of SAB TV as a GEC, Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, SET India, says, "SAB TV has a strong equity in the comedy space. It will still continue to have comedy as its central focus, while having a whole range of other programming as well. We want to include the masses, instead of casting SAB TV as a niche comedy channel."
The TG for SAB TV will be males, SEC BCD, aged 25-45. The channel aims to tap not only large metros, but also small towns. Interestingly, Sony and SET MAX cater to SEC A.
Dasgupta adds that SAB TV will introduce three new shows by the end of the year. The first of these is 'Lo Kal-Lo Baat', a comedy show in which four theatre/film comic actors will perform spontaneously in situations that will be given to them on the spot (similar to dumb charades). The show will be hosted by film and television actor Saurabh Shukla (of 'Kallu Mama' fame). It will be telecast Mondays to Fridays at 8:30 pm and is being produced by Kal Kush Productions.
A certain section of the media feels that 'Lo Kal-Lo Baat' has been inspired by the popular American show, 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' Dasgupta dispels these speculations: "Because our show involves four actors as well, it may seem as though it is based along those lines. But there are several innovations that we will introduce in the show and, believe me, the concept is completely Indian."
"Dumb charades and other such comedy acts have been a part of Indian games since long. What will make this show interesting is the actors' comic timing and presence of mind. They will not be given any formal scripts - it will all be completely spontaneous," he adds.
Certain popular programmes such as 'Office Office', 'Yes Boss', 'Sab Kuch Ho Sakta Hai', 'Aaj Ke Shriman Shrimati', 'Chamcha in Chief', and 'Wah Wah!!' will be retained, but with a whole new look and feel.
Certain media planners are of the opinion that SAB TV's move from comedy channel to GEC may actually work well for it so long as its content is engaging. As Punitha Arumugum, group CEO, Madison Media, says, "Take a look at STAR One. On the one hand, they have a great thing going with comedy shows such as 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge'. On the other, they have a reality dance show such as 'Nach Baliye'. At the end of it, the success of a channel boils down to how engaging its content is, and how aggressively the shows are promoted. I think the viewers will have no problem with SAB TV becoming a GEC as long as it provides good entertainment."
However, Debraj Tripathi, general manager, Maxus, Delhi, thinks differently. He says, "It would have been better if SAB TV had continued concentrating on being a comedy channel. I cannot comment on the long-term strategy as trends keep on changing, but it is my personal opinion that SAB would do better as a pure comedy channel, at least in the short term. This is because there are already giants such as STAR Plus, Sony and Zee TV doing well in the GEC segment. It will be challenging for SAB TV to establish itself there."
For marketing and promoting the new look of SAB TV as well as 'Lo Kal-Lo Baat', the channel aims to use on-ground promotions, radio, print, trains, buses, even the back of trucks, in order to bring in viewers from the 'heartland' of India.
SAB TV, despite its strength as a comedy channel, was hardly a favourite with major advertisers and media planners. NP Singh, COO, SET India, is of the opinion that its new avatar will bring in the same kind of advertisers as Sony or SET MAX. He says, "I'm sure that SAB TV will attract high-end advertisers who want to tap into a middle class Indian audience. For instance, if Sony has a shampoo advert, SAB TV will probably have the same brand's sachet commercial."
Meanwhile, Vikas Bahl, vice-president, Contract, Mumbai, has joined SAB TV as senior vice-president, content and communication.
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