With seven new shows, a changed look after 14 long years and the high voltage marketing campaigns, Sony is set to fight it out in the Hindi general entertainment genre come May 25.
For Gurdip Bhangoo, senior vice-president and head, programming, Sony, and his team, it has been a very exhaustive six months involving research, evaluation and analysis about the perception about Sony in the market, what the channel stands for in the entertainment space and what can be explored.
For the last few years, Sony hasn't done well in the Monday to Thursday primetime band and hasn't got the required stickiness to any of its weekday properties, unlike some of its weekend properties. "That formed the basis of the journey that we have embarked upon with the revamp," states Bhangoo.
The idea was to re-evaluate the flagship brand and use the big platform of IPL to convey the 'big change' to the viewers. "It's a promise we are making. We are changing not just in content but also in look and feel," he adds.
Variety, innovation and quality are what the new Sony will offer. While there are six new shows, Dus Ka Dum (a game show) is a second season. A conscious effort is being made to introduce a lineup that is different from what is currently on offer on other channels.
In its second season, Dus Ka Dum will be a weekly, being telecast at 9 pm on Saturdays (and not twice a week like the first season). The rationale is to maintain the novelty factor of the game show. "In this market, there is an insatiable appetite for something new every time. We don't want to over expose the brand, which can lead to fatigue and shorter shelf life," he explains.
On weekdays, the entire 8-10 pm time band has been re-worked. Older shows such as Meet Mila De Rabba, Hum Ladkiyan, Kabhi Socha Na Tha and Aathvan Vachan will be replaced by new ones. "We will evaluate if these shows can get some mileage in other slots," he states.
Rani Padmini, a period love story produced by Nitin Desai Studio, will take the 8 pm slot. This is the first time that Sony will feature a show like this. "The idea was to do a period drama that has scale, high production values and detailing," Bhangoo says.
At 8.30 pm, there will be another fiction show, Palampur Express, which is a story about a small town girl who is a good runner and dreams of being a champion runner. It's a feel good aspirational story that the channel hopes will be well received in the smaller towns. In fact, the channel's strategy is to attract eyeballs from small town audiences since they are early watchers.
After 9 pm, the programming will be urban-centric, with shows such as Bhaskar Bharti, which is a romantic comedy produced by DJ's unit. This will be pitted against serious drama soaps on other channels. "The idea is to genuinely offer distinctively alternative programming and strike a chord with the viewer," he explains.
At 9.30 pm, there will be 'Ladies Special' produced by Optimystix. The Mumbai local trains will be the backdrop of the programme, which will incorporate stories of four different women, their individual problems and how the train is the place where they congregate. To promote the show, the channel will have radio stations hosting live from local trains.
At 10 pm, Monday to Friday, there will be a non-fiction show, called Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega, a home-grown format. Participants with any sort of talent will be given a platform to perform and impress the jury and the audience for a certain period of time. The successful candidates will then compete in the finals. The show is being produced by Wizcraft and will run for six weeks.
There will be another comedy show introduced in the weekend band at 10 pm. The channel is already looking at shows and ideas to be launched in a few months.
Except for the logo, the entire packaging of the channel is slated to change. "The graphic elements of the channel, the female who used to emerge with the logo in her hand, will be replaced by real people," says Danish Khan, marketing head, Sony Entertainment Television. The film has been shot across geographies.
"The idea is to represent the diversity of the country, to speak to the viewer in his/ her language and convey a sense of warmth," Khan explains. The channel's identity will be refreshed with new images but the theme will remain constant.
The promotions of the new lineup have already begun in full swing across media - during IPL on television, in print, outdoor, radio and on-ground activities.
It remains to be seen if Sony hits a six with its six-pack proposition.