Sony aims big post Yash Raj deal

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | December 08, 2009
The channel plans to spend Rs 15-20 crore to promote the Yash Raj time band

January 2010 will see yet another landmark change on Sony Entertainment Television. This time, the channel will don a 'red' look, courtesy Yash Raj Films. Sony is in a content deal with Yash Raj, wherein the latter will produce content exclusively for the channel. In the past, Sony has had large movie deals with the Yash Raj banner.

YRF Television will consolidate Sony's weekend time band, beginning with one non-fiction and four fiction shows. This also marks Yash Raj's foray into television.

In May this year, Sony launched a robust line-up of six shows - Rani Padmini, Palampur Express, Bhaskar Bharti, Ladies Special, Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega and the second season of 10 Ka Dum, all supported by a revamped look. Reality show, Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao followed. But neither of these shows created fireworks the way some of its old properties, such as Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin, did.

Man Jit Singh, chief executive officer, Multi Screen Media, admits that the May revamp was a tough task. "Our strategy was clear - we wanted to address contemporary issues. Some shows were more successful than others. But we have managed to get excitement back to the channel," he says. He believes that the platform is now set at a stage, where a new show would be watched by many more people.

YRF will launch shows in different genres. The non-fiction show, Lift Kara De, hosted by Karan Johar, will feature a Bollywood celebrity and his/her biggest fan each week.

The fiction shows comprise Mahi Way,, Seven and Powder. While Powder is an underworld drama; Seven is a mythology inspired show. "The shows are of high production values, told in the manner of a movie. It will be a never-seen-before experience on television for viewers," says Singh.

The channel is attempting to attract the weekend viewers with one-hour shows and induce appointment viewing, like in other markets. "By introducing such high-quality fiction on weekends, we hope audiences will come back. It's a new pattern, but we think that audiences are looking for some different programming on weekends," he says.

The weekend has been a strong point for Sony, with shows such as CID and the new season of Aahat continuing to attract eyeballs. When asked why the weekday line-up - which has been a challenge for the channel for a long time - is not being addressed, Singh says that another set of shows would be launched for the Monday-Thursday time band. The existing ones would either be replaced or evaluated.

"We are separately concentrating on creating a new line-up of fiction shows all the way through the week, addressing contemporary issues for small towns early evening, and then move on to contemporary issues for the metros towards late evening," he adds, emphasising that the new positioning of being a contemporary, progressive channel for the younger generation is here to stay. Yash Raj could also address the weekday primetime line-up for Sony in the near future.

The channel's graph has been looking up in the past few weeks. According to TAM, in Week 23, Sony had recorded 90 GRPs. Post the revamp, in Week 27, the channel fetched 108 GRPs. Subsequently, it slowly moved up and recorded its highest GRPs of 198 in week 46.

Singh and his team are pleased with the growth. "We are ahead of our targets. We expected to end the fiscal year with around 150 GRPs," he states.

A budget of Rs 15- 20 crore has been set aside to promote the association with Yash Raj, starting with an on-air promo. The channel is also in the midst of finalising the title sponsors and associate sponsors for each of the fiction shows and is believed to be charging a high premium.

"There has been a positive response from the advertisers and we will have most of the sponsors on-board in the next 10 days," says Rohit Gupta, president, network sales, licensing and telephony. The channel has priced the 10-second spot at around Rs 1.25 lakh, according to sources.

In the next 12-18 months, Sony aims to be the No. 1 channel, working in a consistent and consolidated manner to reclaim the position it once commanded. "We changed direction too many times in the past. We are now consistent in terms of our strategy, which is to have relatable programming addressing contemporary issues," Singh asserts.

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