STAR's Sanjivani marks diverse programming

By , agencyfaqs! | In | January 18, 2002
The launch of Sanjivani, the first programme since Jeevan Rekha to focus on healthcare issues, shows how STAR has decided to go in for a diverse programming mix to retain the 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm slot

MUMBAI, January 18

What's it that sells a serial? Intense emotion, timing, or savvy marketing?

All of these, and innovation.

STAR, in its quest to keep the viewer glued to its channel, and thus maintain its commanding position, has come up with a marketing formula that seems hard to beat - find an innovative serial or programme, hype it up, concentrate all your marketing and advertising on it, and then launch. Give a bit of time before launching the next. The formula has been very much in evidence in the latest launches of STAR. Take Kamzor Kadii Kaun (KKK), launched on Christmas, 2001, in the prime-time 9.00 pm slot. The show has generated quite a lot of hype and TRP ratings above 6.

And now, on January 16, again in the 9.00 pm slot, a new serial Sanjivani. The serial deals with the lives of four doctors - Rahul, Juhi, Omi and Simran - and their adventures or misadventures as young interns at Sanjivani Hospital. While at one level the story is about the young people in the serial, it goes much beyond the usual tribulations of young couples in love, or hate, and the problems that they face. "The serial looks at the challenges faced by a group of young interns who come into the job with a lot of idealism and a certain amount of naiveté," says Shola Rajachandran, vice-president, publicity and press relations, STAR.

But what is more significant is the timing of the launch. After the Vinod Mehta-directed Jeevan Rekha, that debuted in the late 1980s, this is the first time that a serial, centered at the lives of healthcare professionals, is making it to prime time television. Jeevan Rekha was extremely popular, and it is surprising that the formula was not used again.

Thus, the serial is very different from the usual fare that STAR Plus was dishing out. The major weakness of STAR's programming mix in 2001 was that it was becoming a bit predictable. KBC too was falling in popularity, and with its departure, the main challenge was to hang on to the 8.00 pm to 10.00 pm slot, which has been STAR's domain. Forty-one of the Top 50 shows, including the Top 10 shows, belong to STAR. STAR's network of seven channels continues to dominate the prime time slot with a share of 20, while Zee's 13 channels have a share of 8.8 and Sony's 4 channels 13.5. STAR Plus 24-hours share is 11.9 with Sony at 7.4 and Zee at 3.0.

Yet, to continue to hold on to this rating, especially after KBC had gone, was challenging.

STAR seems to have decided that a diverse mix of offering is one way out. "We already have two format-based shows. So it was time for a difference. We are experimenting with all kinds of genres," reveals Yashpal Khanna, senior vice-president, corporate communications, STAR.

And the time for a health-centered show is just right. With a huge number of insurance companies and healthcare companies coming into the country, interest in healthcare is at an all-time high. Sanjivani is bound to benefit from that interest. At the same time, what STAR is doing after the end of KBC, whose appeal cut across audiences, is to have a presence in every audience segment. While KKK, which has TRPs of 6.3, has ruffled the audiences but piqued their interest, serials like Sanjivani have been aimed primarily at the urban middle class, who can identify with the characters, say analysts.

But what makes the serial interesting in the no-holds barred world of television channel marketing is the fact that rival Sony too is planning to launch a serial Dhadkan in February, in the same genre. But right now, with the launch of Sanjivani, STAR has once again seized the advantage. Analysts say that Sony, floundering in quite a bit of trouble, will now find the task of wooing viewers somewhat difficult. "First mover STAR will have a better chance of capturing a large chunk of the television audience interested in these kinds of shows. Sony will have to lure them away, which is more difficult than attracting viewers to a new serial," is how one senior official in a rival channel puts it.

Sanchayeeta Bhattacharya, channel planning director, Initiative Media, Delhi, adds a twist when she says, "The Indian viewer is a discerning one and the programme that has been executed better will command a larger viewership. One has to see both the serials to be able to comment on quality of execution."

However, she conceded STAR might be starting out with an advantage here. "STAR Plus may be at an advantage not because its version is coming on air first, but because it creates an excellent promotion package for its new programmes. And on account of its large viewer base, is able to beam these promos to a large part of the audience. In fact, STAR programmes are promoted well, not only on its network channels but also on the net, print, outdoor and movie theatres." © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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