Age-control formula for television soaps

By , agencyfaqs! | In Media Publishing | July 31, 2006
Television channels sure know how to save a dying soap opera. One of the key formulae is letting the show take a leap in time

STAR Plus' 'saas-bahu' sagas seem to be defying Mother Nature's decree that anything that is born must end.

The never-ending saga that is STAR Plus's hot property, 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi' (KSBKBT), has now taken a second leap in time, giving the channel, what it undoubtedly hopes, a fresh lease of life to the brand. The first leap happened almost three years ago in 2002. The channel's other daily soap, 'Kasauti Zindagi Kay', which took one such leap just last year, is also scheduled for another leap soon.

The popular belief among media analysts is that these leaps are gimmicks to get an interesting angle to the soap to further consolidate its ratings. "The channel takes such a step only when its officials realise that the ratings might decline," says Arpita Menon, general manager, Lodestar. She also believes that mere leaps do not help involve the viewers.

From what does this strategy derive strength? Is it fear of losing TVRs? Channel executives offer different explanations.

"It is not about the script or ratings," asserts Shailja Kejriwal, creative director, STAR India. "We consider it the journey of a protagonist in different stages and different roles. A similar story revolving around the same characters for a long time can get less interesting, so we take it to the next level."

TAM figures indicate that the leaps don't always result in increased TVRs. The TVRs haven't shown any major change before and after the leaps in time. 'Kyunki…' is a good example of this.

According to media buyers such as Amin Lakhani, director, CTG, Group M, the channels don't want to take the risk of messing with established brands. He says, "In the past, channels such as Zee TV and Sony Entertainment Television have experimented with their programming during prime time. And the irony is that these strategies did not yield positive results, be it 'Astitva - Ek Prem Kahani' on Zee TV or 'Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin' on Sony Entertainment Television."

Ruby Bana, head, MPG, South, also feels that STAR Plus does not want to try something new in its prime-time slot.

Kejriwal defends her channel's position: "It's not about not wanting to risk or experimenting with the prime-time slot. Even internationally, popular shows are not just taken off air, but constantly rejuvenated to retain their popularity."

"Moreover, we strongly feel that properties such as 'Kyunki…' and 'Kasauti… ' have a huge brand value attached to them. Introducing a fresh flavour and characters in these shows makes better sense than taking them off air," she asserts.

Does that mean that the 'saas-bahu' sagas' will continue to hijack television viewers? "These 'K' serials can go on forever. They won't ever reach saturation point. It's just like life goes on, generation after generation," says Kejriwal.

Lakhani of Group M believes that these 'sobbing kitchen dramas' drive eyeballs and, as of now, nothing will change. "The 'meat' of the channel won't change, though STAR Plus will introduce some new shows to replace other properties that are around the prime-time slot," he says.

From the media investment point of view, it is eye balls that drive the money. And as media planners see it, this is where the action is and will be.

© 2006 agencyfaqs!

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