Old movies on a youth channel

By , agencyfaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | August 21, 2007
In the month of July, SAB aired 37 movie titles, including daily 11 am shows and Saturday evening shows. The common thread was that all the titles were movies of the yesteryears on a youth platform

First you & #BANNER1 & # reposition yourself as a youth channel. Then run a full fledged campaign announcing that. But when it comes to programming, you limit the changes to only a few shows. SAB TV, which recently ran a campaign, 'Mera Bharat Jawaan', asserting itself as a youth channel, nevertheless ran 37 old Hindi movies all through the month of July. The movies were aired in the programming slots, 'Chalchitra Dopahar', daily at 11 am, and 'Filmfare Award Winning Movie', on Saturday evenings. SAB is the second general entertainment channel of the Sony Entertainment Television Network.

Was the airing of the movies an attempt to juxtapose jawaan (young) and old? The channel says it was a well thought out strategy.

"When most channels were spending big bucks to buy the latest titles, we thought it would be logical to air superhit oldies targeting the youth rather than replaying new titles," says Anooj Kapoor, business head of SAB.

The thinking behind this theory is that the youth prefer watching the latest movies on the big screen. "The youth see 'Chak De! India' or 'Krissh' as soon as it is released, but titles like 'Jewel Thief', 'Masoom', 'Angoor' aren't available anywhere but the small screen and we are giving them an opportunity to experience the past," says Priya Mishra, programming head, SAB.

That's not it. SAB claims that it's a lesson that the channel is giving to the youth. "Even in schools, we teach young students history. So, consider this a history lesson," says Kapoor.

When it was pointed out that history was perhaps the only subject that most of us avoided at school, Kapoor retorts, "Our history classes aren't routine, they are full of comedy, fun, drama, emotions."

Close watchers of the industry such as Sushanto Biswas, business director, Initiative, feel that what SAB is doing now has been done before by most other channels, including STAR One and Zee. "But they have got it all wrong. If we look at the TRPs that SAB has managed, it's comparable to the TRPs of movies on STAR Movies and HBO. But if I have to advise my youth targeting client, I would rather go for HBO and STAR Movies than for SAB playing oldies."

Among the various popular titles SAB aired in the month of July were evergreen titles such as 'Jab Jab Phool Khile', 'Trishul', 'Vishwatma', 'Majboor' and 'Khuda Gawah'.

Media analysts don't buy SAB's argument on youth and oldies going hand in hand. "It's illogical to play old titles on a youth channel. One can't expect oldies to do well on a youth channel. Oldies go well with Zee Cinema rather than SAB," says Mona Jain, Senior vice-president, ZenithOptimedia.

Kapoor says, "We are playing old titles because that's what we want. Firstly, we have easy access to both old and new titles courtesy our sister movie channel, Max. If we wished, we could get new titles without any cost. But, we don't want to be one among many."

Agrees Basabdutta Choudhary, COO, Madison Media Plus, "Depending on the genre, youngsters are still interested in the old titles. For instance, Hrishikesh Mukherjee's comedies are still popular among the youth, so is the Big B. So, one can't rule out the popularity of oldies among the youth, but there's a limit to it. I don't expect youngsters to go crazy about 'Mughal-e-Azam'. 'Naya Daur' was re-released last month with a colour print, but fell flat on its face."

"We don't want to judge the success in terms of TRPs, but the response we have received is phenomenal. As a result, we'll continue to show old titles in the coming months," concludes Kapoor. SAB obviously is banking on the saying, old is gold. Only this time, it's being tested on young blood.