to be taking the adage, 'Change is the only constant', a tad too seriously. It is shedding its 'youth channel' image and going back to focusing on comedy, if the large number of comedy shows it is launching is any indication.
SAB's latest addition to its comedy platter is a stand-up comedy contest called Comedy Ka King Kaun. This is an 'inspired' version of STAR One's path-breaking reality show, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge (TGILC). The only difference here is that the contestants on the show are people who have participated in the various seasons of TGILC.
Anooj Kapoor, business head, SAB, doesn't bat an eyelid when he says that its format is inspired by TGILC. According to him, stand-up comedy is the current hot property on Indian television and SAB wants to leverage it.
Comedy Ka King Kaun is replacing another sitcom, Comedy Ka Tadka. Most of the shows on SAB are comedy. Sab Ka Bheja Fry, Office Office, Family No.1 and Yes Boss are some of them. The slew of comedy shows has stemmed from SAB's new finding about its audience. "What we have discovered is that the youth prefers comedy to any other kind of show. We put this observation into practice a few months ago by launching three linear comedies on the channel, which yielded better dividends than the other shows," says Kapoor, referring to America's Funny Home Videos, Comedy Ka Tadka and Office Office.
After taking over SAB TV in April 2005, SET had decided to position SAB as a second general entertainment channel from the network, targeting males above the age of 25. After almost a year, in 2006, Sony decided to give SAB a makeover by launching four comedies, F.I.R, Party, Ji Behenji and Ishq Ki Ghanti. It tried to woo the youth later, with shows such as Love Story, Mohalla Mohabbatwala and Left Right Left. Now, yet again, it plans to shed its 'youth channel image' and become a comedy channel.
Ask Kapoor about the many image changes that SAB has gone through, and he says, "It has all been part of the learning curve. We have realised that there's no other way of getting best returns for the channel than through comedy." So for now, is it back to the old SAB TV days, when it was known for its comedy properties? "We hope to retain its old imagery," he agrees.
A close watcher of the industry says that Sony is still experimenting with SAB and, unfortunately, hasn't been able to work out the right balance. "None of their properties, whether comedy or non-comedy, has managed to garner good numbers. So, it is in a catch 22 situation," says the media planner, who wished to remain anonymous.
SAB's youth channel proposition certainly hasn't worked. While STAR One has a few hit comedy properties such as Sarabhai vs Sarabhai and Instant Khichdi, there is no channel which caters exclusively to a humour-loving audience. "SAB should tap this potential segment as there is no comedy channel in the television space today," says the planner.