STAR World alters programming schedule to suit Indian taste

By Mitra Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | December 14, 2009
The channel will soon follow a weekday and weekend programming schedule, similar to Hindi entertainment channels

Come 2010, and STAR World will bring programmes to the viewer in a new schedule that is easy to remember and will encourage appointment viewing. The channel, which airs classy English entertainment series in all genres, has decided on this new schedule after much deliberation. The basic premise for this schedule is that unlike in other markets, Indian audiences like to come back for programmes every day of the week at the scheduled hour.

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To consolidate the core viewership and considering the viewing habits in India, the channel has decided to classify their programmes into weekdays, weekends, late nights and happy hours. As part of the strategy, all genres, such as comedy, drama, reality and thriller will be included from January till June; and new shows will be brought in month after month.

Starting with weekdays, from Monday to Thursday, 9 pm - 10 pm would be called 'happy hours', where programmes such as Friends, Scrubs and Rules of Engagement will be featured.

On weekdays, from 10 pm onwards, the series, Boston Legal, Season 5 and Lost, Season 5 will be shown in January. February will see Heroes, Season 4. Similarly, Prison Break, Season 4 will be showcased in March; while the final season of Lost will be shown in April.

Instead of featuring each of these shows on a weekly basis, they will be shown each weekday back to back, similar to the pattern of airing on Hindi entertainment channels.

Likewise, the time from 11 pm onwards will be called 'late nights', divided across weekdays and weekends, where programmes such as Warehouse 13, Ghost Whisperer, Castle, Bones and Baywatch Hawaii will be broadcast.

Friday to Sunday will be the weekend band. Here, Ugly Betty, Season 3 will be featured in January; Desperate Housewives, Season 6 in February; and Season 2 of Beverly Hills 90210 will be on-air in April. Popular chat show, Koffee With Karan will also make a comeback on the weekends.

Jyotsna Viriyala, vice-president and general manager, STAR Movies and STAR World, says the strategy is to build an everyday habit. "Today, with so much content to choose from for the viewer, it is difficult to get audiences on a weekly basis. Besides, we observed that there was a growing appetite for English entertainment among viewers," she says.

Another key insight was that it was not easy for viewers to remember the irregular time slots for their favourite shows. Also, Indian audiences were habituated to consuming programmes on a day-after-day basis.

A marketing plan will soon be rolled out to present the new time-table on STAR World and the new offerings. With this, channel executives hope to increase the time spent on the channel; and to consolidate core viewership and also accumulate new viewers with the marketing. The channel claims that although this scheduling is a first in the English entertainment genre, the plan is here to stay.