While the Hindi general entertainment flock fought for viewership with the clichéd fiction and non-fiction genre of shows, SAB TV, after several changes in its positioning, reinvented itself as a dedicated comedy entertainment channel in 2008. Since then, the channel has brought up newer fiction comedies, thereby filling need gap for comedy entertainment in the market. In September, the channel launched its first non-fiction property, Wah Wah Kya Baat Hai, on the weekend 10 pm slot.
The sibling GEC of Sony is now all set to launch the sequels of the two silent comedies starting December 15, Saturday on the 8 and 8:30 pm slots. Interestingly, the show primarily targets 4-14-year olds.
Until quite recently, the channel has struggled to grab eyeballs during the weekday 8 pm slot; is this an attempt to tap viewers ofn the same slot on weekends, to compensate for the time band?
Anooj Kapoor, business head and associate vice-president, SAB TV, says that the channel isn't struggling for the 8 pm slot any more. "Balveer has been received quite well by the audience and it is visible through the buzz in the market and on the digital platform. We are confident that the new shows will compete with the big ticket shows in the GEC space. While we can't be that expensive, we wanted to compete in a subtle manner."
For Chintu Ban Gaya Gentleman, the lead couple will travel to various locations across the globe and hence, the production cost is expected to be higher. The sequel, too, will be produced by Deepti Bhatnagar Productions. Chintu Ban Gaya Gentleman has got into tie ups with several tourism boards for the shoot and its production cost has increased by about 10 per cent more than any other show on the channel.
Interestingly, the channel has always aired repeat telecasts on the weekend prime time slots, and this is the first time after Wah wah that the channel has launched an original programming show on this slot. The Saturday evening prime time slot is ruled by big ticket reality shows on the Hindi GECs; On Star Plus, the slot showcases Arjun, while on Sony, Adaalat and KBC 6 will give competition to the new shows on SAB. On Zee TV, a movie or an award show is aired on the slot, while Colors' Sur Kshetra is also aired in the same slot.
The channel has planned several innovative communication efforts such as silent press conferences and a 'different kind' of digital campaign to market the shows' sequels.
Marketers have mixed expectations for the upcoming properties. While many media planners feel that there is no real competition for the shows as they are in a completely different genre, a few others feel that SAB could find it tough to get the audience due to the scheduling. Another perspective is that the slot is a movie/reality time band and it will be tough to get viewers away from their staple weekend fare.
Chandra Dobhal, associate vice-president, Carat Media, says that it will be impossible and unfair to compare KBC or Sur Kshetra with the silent comedies. The two are different genres and hence, appeal to different audience sets.
Avinash Pillai, national buying director, Mediacom seconds this and adds, "SAB must not be targeting the people who are tuning into the offerings of the other GECs. Even if I have to consider a shift of the audience, the percentage would be very small. Largely, the new shows would attract a new set of viewers."
R S Suriyanarayan, vice-president, Initiative, says, "These will be optional destinations for the viewers. It will be very difficult to get loyal viewers for the property."
Trick of time
Some marketers express doubts about targeting this age band during the 8 pm slot. Also, the channel's primary audience, males, will not tune in as early as 8 pm as Saturdays are working days, they say.
Suriyanarayan of Initiative adds, "Generally, the 4-14-year olds have control over the remote between 4 pm and 7 pm, while if we extend the TG a little, then, for the youth, it is tough to get them to the TV on weekends. The slot is largely movie prime time."
Pillai, however, adds that the channel must be getting some traction on the weekend slot since it has launched an original programming-based show.
Edge of silence
Citing the examples of Tom & Jerry and Charlie Chaplin, Dobhal states that silent comedy is really a fresh stock of entertainment, and adds that the plot and stories will play an important role. "I don't feel it is a risk," he adds.
Pillai is also positive about the plot. As the channel targets the audience that seeks lighter viewing, he says, these shows may sync with their tastes.
If SAB TV, which has average GRPs of 130-135, can increase its share even by, say, 10 GRPs, it's a good climb. It could attract advertisers that look for average slots at reasonable rates.