have been a trump card for STAR One, be it 'The Great Indian Comedy Show' or 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge'. Now Zee plans to follow suit and try its luck in that genre.
While there were quite a few imitative versions of the famous comedian entertaining the viewers in 'The Great Indian Comedy Challenge', Zee has decided to use the original, Johnny Lever himself, in a quest for more viewers. The new show, which will go on air in June 2006, is called 'Johnny Aala Re'.
The show will feature Lever in different avatars in every episode, but putting up a whole act in each one.
No doubt, Zee is keeping its hopes from the show high, considering the fact that artistes such as Lever come for a high price, but the question is whether Zee's effort comes too late?
Close watchers of the industry say that Lever certainly has the capacity to hold viewers for 30 minutes, at least for the initial few episodes.
They are all unanimous about the fact that Lever still has a huge fan following and his 30 minutes of laughs will not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
Quite a few people in the industry are gung-ho about the success of the show. As Praveen Tripathi, CEO, Media Direction, puts it, "If it's Johnny Lever, it's bound to work."
But Tripathi also puts in a word of caution. "The show has to be supported with good scripts to sustain itself in the long run," he says.
He adds, "Although there are quite a few comedy shows running on television, there is still a dearth of good comedy."
Amin Lakani, director, CTG, Group M, concurs with Tripathi. He says, "The real task for Zee would be to continuously reinvent and redesign the content so as to surpass the benchmark set by STAR One's 'Laughter Challenge'. Mere imitation of actors might not work for a long time, which is why avoiding monotony is of key importance."
Speaking in terms of the reach and audience the show will acquire, Premjeet Sodhi, senior V-P, Lintas Media Group, asserts, "Zee has a wide reach and, so, getting the initial viewers will not be difficult. Moreover, a leading comedian like Lever will draw audiences. So, even if Zee is a late entrant, it will find an audience."
Apart from its on-air promos, Zee has not promoted 'Johny Aala Re…' very aggressively. The reason, as the media planners speculate, is the unique format of the show, which does not need outright promotion; mere word-of-mouth will suffice.
On whether it will usher in the numbers for Zee in terms of channel share, Tripathi explains, "This one show cannot do wonders for Zee. It will get an initial sampling, but may not elevate Zee's share. It can definitely hold audiences around that time band and create awareness about shows before and after 'Johnny Aala Re...'"
Well, surely that means that till Lever runs out of jokes, Zee can leverage on his popularity!
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