SAB TV tests with non-episodic long format content

By Anindita Sarkar , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | November 01, 2011
On November 5, SAB TV will launch a primetime band that will feature long format shows, non-episodic in format. Like in the movies, the content will have the story narrated within the given period, with fresh stories and a fresh cast every week.

At a time when the Hindi GECs (general entertainment channels) are battling hard to maintain their weekend viewership through movie premieres, events, and even weekend fictions, SAB TV has decided to take a new route.

Beginning November 5, the second GEC from the Sony stable will launch a primetime, one-and-a-half hour band under the slot name 'SAB Ka Evening Show'.

The slot will feature long format shows termed 'Mahaepisodes', from 9 pm to 10:30 pm every Saturday; the shows will be non-episodic in format. This means that quite like in the movies, the content telecast will have its story narrated within the given time period.

The channel will showcase a new show based on a fresh storyline every week, across varied genres of comedy such as romantic, family, satire, and thriller. The shows will be produced and directed by names in the industry such as Ravi Rai, Siddharth Tewary, Vipul D Shah , J D Majethia, and Rajesh Beri, and will feature prominent actors, says the channel.

Anooj Kapoor, executive vice-president and business head, SAB TV, says, "We wanted to offer viewers an alternative entertainment platform on Saturday evenings. Viewers have never before had the opportunity to sample a new comedy story every Saturday -- something that will impart a unique entertaining experience to their weekend family viewing."

He adds, "We are associating with the most prolific directors, producers and artistes, who with their fresh concepts and light-hearted content, will delight viewers across India."

Will this strategy work?

Various media planners are optimistic that the strategy may not only work in favour of the channel, but may actually push the other players in the Hindi GEC space to experiment with such formats.

"The content work is quite similar to short film formats. And, it may actually work since it's a different take by the channel; it's unique when compared to the other GEC programmes, and is low on costs, too. The strategy is also a good option against the big budget reality shows or events -- which may or may not deliver. And yes, if SAB gets this strategy right, it will set a trend, for sure," says Amin Lakhani, head, exchange, Mindshare Media.

Quite like Lakhani, Amit Ray, former president, Lintas Media Group, too, compares the strategy to movies. He notes that the idea of long format shows could finally open up the design of telefilms in the Hindi GEC market. "In Bengal, channels such as Sony Aath (the Bengali movie channel from Sony) and ETV have already proved that such content works in the favour of audiences," he says.

Planners suggest that today, television viewers do not have many options to choose from when it comes to weekend programming on Hindi GECs. Therefore, this move can help SAB TV increase the audience time spent, and thus, the stickiness of the channel, as well.

"SAB TV has a loyal viewership base, and the move will only help it to increase stickiness, provided the content talks quality. Also, the channel is high on male audience skew. And, the idea of a non-episodic, long format show every weekend only falls in synergy with its male audience set," opines Anita Nayyar, chief executive officer, MPG India and South Asia.

For the record...

To begin with, SAB Ka Evening's first show will be titled Oye Bunty Babloo Oye. It will be directed by Ravi Rai and produced by Vipul D Shah from Optimystix. Starring Nitesh Pandey and Gaurav Gera, the story revolves around two small town innocent souls, Bunty and Babloo, who with their inherited values, and selfless and lively nature, rekindle the lifeless hearts of the so-called 'modern heartless souls' of Mumbai.

Kya Hoga Is Desh Ka, the next in the pipeline, is a slice of life comedy that revolves around the prime character Desh, a compulsive social worker, who in an attempt to help solve the problems of a young man, puts his personal and professional life into chaos, thus creating hilarious situations. But, it all ends with everything getting resolved -- leaving all happy and content. This story is being produced by Siddharth Tewary from Swastik Pictures and directed by Rajan Wagdhare.

Following next is Gaadi Bula Rahi Hai, the story of two families from different backgrounds travelling with one another in the train. Directed by Rajesh Beri, its cast includes Ranjeet, Rakesh Bedi, Shweta Kwatra, Varun Badola, Amita Nangia, and Arupa Bose.

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