afaqs!

Comedy of SAB-stance

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | September 16, 2008
SAB now plans to position itself as a family comedy entertainment channel

SAB's evolution & #BANNER1 & # as Sony Entertainment Network's second channel has been interesting, if a tad tiring. It has changed its positioning more than five times in its experiments with variety programming,. Now, SAB is seeking clear differentiation by using comedy and it is aiming to be positioned as a family comedy entertainment channel.

SAB business head Anooj Kapoor defends the changes, saying the channel has kept changing its fare in tune with audience expectations. In a conversation with afaqs!, Kapoor says, "These decisions are not taken by us, they are dictated to us by our viewers."

When SAB was taken over from Shri Adhikari Brothers by Sony Entertainment Network in 2005, it enjoyed the positioning of a pure comedy channel with popular shows such as Office Office, Yes Boss and Shrimaan Shrimati. Sony positioned it as another general entertainment channel (GEC). This was followed by a series of transformations: GEC, comedy, youth, comedy, youth, comedy and, now, family comedy.

"We faced a perception problem. People still relate to SAB as a comedy channel and we want to leverage that now," says Kapoor. "Our approach in comedy will be different and fresh so that we win our audience from the daily soaps that dominate other channels."

SAB has introduced linear comedy properties, or comedy soaps, such as Lo Ho Gayi Pooja Iss Ghar Ki, Taarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashma and Main Kab Saas Banoongi. It will soon launch another weekly fiction show, India's 1st Horror Comedy.

The channel will launch a brand campaign in October to communicate its strengthened positioning. A TV campaign will be followed by print and outdoor promotions. The campaign will be designed on the idea of Asli Mazaa SAB Ke Saath Aata Hai (Real Fun is with SAB). The TV commercial will capture some memorable moments such as a birthday or a game of carom or chess, where being with the family is good fun. The campaign will question whether viewers prefer to spend valuable family time watching retrograde serials or lighthearted entertainment?

Kapoor takes pride in the fact that SAB is not running blindly in the rat race. "Television channels are following the Amar-Akbar-Anthony formula, that is, soaps-reality shows-mythology," he says. "We want to be the first to give the audience a break from the relentless badgering of soaps."