Imagine TV: Ready for a quiet re-launch

By Anindita Sarkar , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | January 20, 2012
Vivek Bahl, who joined Imagine TV a few months ago as chief content officer, has a great task in hand - to bring back viewers' confidence in the channel. He speaks to afaqs! on the plans ahead.

Post the re-christening of Star One to Life OK, Imagine TV was pushed down by another level to the No. 7 position among the GECs. However, the channel hasn't given up.

The general entertainment channel is getting ready for a quiet re-launch. Last October, Imagine got Vivek Bahl on board as the chief content officer and since then, the channel is slowly gearing up to revamp the channel.

Vivek Bahl

"Turner wanted me to come on board, take a re-look at the channel, and have a new vision.It has taken a while to put together our plans and now, the plans are being put into action," says Bahl.

However, the channel doesn't intend to play all its cards at one shot. It plans to launch a slew of programmes through 2012.

On January 23, the channel will launch its new non-fiction show Gyan Guru, a quiz show based on religion and culture, slotted at 7.30 pm. Bahl says that the show will not be episodic so that viewers are forced to return the next day.

In February, the channel will launch two new shows -- Mi, Aaji Aur Saheb at 9.30 pm, and Jamuna Paar, the time band for which is yet to be decided. The initial focus will be to grow the early 7.30 pm primetime with a non-fiction (at a time when all other channels play fiction), and firm up its primetime slots with these two shows. "Eventually, we intend to revamp the entire line-up from 7.30 pm onwards. But, it will happen over the year. The change cannot happen overnight," says Bahl.

He accepts that the first task for the channel is to win back the confidence of viewers. Imagine plans to put up one show at a time with the hope that viewers will like it, and the channel will build cumulative viewership with the success of each show.

"The first half of 2012 will see small and simple shows to build that confidence in viewers. Once that confidence is built, the second half will have bigger shows like 'Swayamvar with Veena', along with a number of new fiction launches," Bahl says.

Speaking to afaqs!, Bahl agrees that the channel is currently on a back foot and that's because of its history. "I feel we have changed tracks too often. The channel now needs to hold itself steady," he says.

According to him, viewers have sampled the channel for a non-fiction show, but fiction has been a black spot. The channel has not been successful in building up the fiction shows on the back of popular reality shows when its viewership achieved new spikes. Citing the example of the show Zor Ka Jhatka, with Shah Rukh Khan as host, Bahl says that the channel failed to use Khan's star value to the optimum, and build viewership base for fiction shows around him.

When asked about running blockbusters on Imagine, Bahl was of the opinion that this was a wrong strategy, which worked only as a short-term plan. He says, "Movies are used to buy ratings, but this doesn't help the channel in garnering revenues. It's an expensive proposition used by the channel to stay ahead in the weekly rankings. I agree that we could have added 10-20 GRPs more than what we usually get, but we are not in this game. We want to pull our audience through our content and not movies."

The channel also plans to re-strategise its scheduling so that it can use its repeats effectively. Bahl says, "For many channels, 60 per cent of its weekly GRPs come from repeats. These channels telecast only those shows which perform well. Our strategy will be different. We will craft our creative strategy in a way that shows which have the potential to grow, as well as shows which show slow growth, will both benefit from repeats in the long term."

When asked about the successful revamp of STAR One, Bahl says that the success of any channel can't be evaluated in one or two weeks. The true picture comes out in one or two years. He says, "I am not going to get worried by any new entrants. In fact, the good thing is that a lot of viewers are willing to try out new shows. Today, any new channel with decent content and decent marketing, will be sampled by the viewers."

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