New STAR serial talks of feuding families, young lovers

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | November 04, 2008
The new serial, which replaces Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, is a departure from the norm for Balaji Telefilms

STAR Plus & #BANNER1 & # has replaced the long-running Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki (KGGK) with another Balaji Telefilms show, Tujh Sang Preet Lagai Sajna (TSPLS). The daily soap, which started yesterday, will air Monday to Thursday at 10 pm.

TSPLS claims to be a departure from Balaji's usual 'K' soaps. It will portray the love story of its lead characters, Yugandhar and Vrinda, who belong to warring families. The plot is that of a deep childhood friendship going sour. The friends' grandchildren - the young lovers - are oblivious of the enmity and fall in love. The story will unfold to show how they brave all odds to unite with each other.

What's the game plan that STAR Plus is following to retain the viewers who have been faithful devotees of its shows, KGGK and Kyunki… Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, for years? KGGK bowed out on October 9, while Kyunki… is on its way out.

Keertan Adyanthaya, executive vice-president and general manager, STAR Plus, says, "The strategy to retain viewers is simple - create shows which have a unique hook and can sustain their interest day after day. It is the execution of this strategy that is difficult."

KGGK commanded a family audience for STAR Plus. With a new show replacing a successful old show, Keertan explains that the challenge is "to create a franchise which will have well etched characters, who form a strong bond with the audience. Creating situations and story tracks which will resonate with the viewers is the real challenge."

The channel heads are hopeful that TSPLS will appeal to STAR Plus' core existing audience, and will also pull in a younger audience. According to TAM data for C&S homes, for 4+ audiences in Hindi speaking markets, KGGK delivered a TVR of 5 in the period of January 1-24. Closer to its end, the show's TVR dropped to 3 between September 8 and October 2. The show was replaced in the short term by a filler show, called Diwali Rishton Ki, which garnered a TVR of 2.74 in HSM CS4+.

Keertan makes light of the so-called decline of the 'saas-bahu' genre and its bearing on the traditional hardcore target audience for STAR Plus' shows. He says, "'So-called decline' is correct. It is only 'so-called' - there is no actual decline. Daily soaps are still popular and they are the most watched genre in Indian television."

Media planners such as Punitha Arumugam, group chief executive officer, Madison Media, do not read much into the dynamics of traditional or longstanding dedicated viewers having any drastic impact on the fate of a show or channel.

Arumugam asks, "When Kaun Banega Crorepati came to an end, or for that matter any other popular show neared its culmination, did the audiences stop watching television? The answer is no. Instead, they moved on to the next best available show. It is important to remember that viewers stick only to content - nothing else."

Arumugam points out that interest in some of the leading 'saas-bahu' shows has been on the wane for a while now, so there is no point debating the fate of the loyal watchers of these shows. They have already moved on to newer format shows and discovered differentiated content on newer platforms in the general entertainment category.

She says it will be interesting to see whether TSPLS will match up to the success of its predecessor.

Other media planners such as Mona Jain, head, strategic investments, India Media Exchange, believe that 10pm is a primetime slot and important for any general entertainment channel. But with newer channels, viewers have more options available, so even if a channel succeeds in retaining its core base, its audience will still be very fragmented.

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