Television war enters new phase

By , agencyfaqs! | In
Last updated : September 25, 2014 04:04 PM
Channels vie to fill the vacuum created by the end of KBC trying out various programming mixes

On Monday, March 18, three new shows debuted on television - a comedy, a cartoon show and a melodrama. While STAR Plus launched two of these - the comedy and the family drama, SABe TV launched a cartoon show.

The new comedy on STAR Plus, in the 8.00 to 8.30 pm slot on Mondays, is titled Krishna Sharma CA, and is produced by Cinevista and Contiloe Films. In the afternoon 1.30 pm to 2.00 pm slot, where competition is less intense, STAR Plus has launched a soap, aptly named Bhabhi, which in a way summarises STAR Plus's winning formula -the twists and turns in the saga of Indian families, which has kept viewers glued to STAR Plus. Bhabhi has been produced by UTV, which also produces the other winning soap opera beamed by STAR in the afternoon slot, Shagun (Monday to Thursday at 2:30 pm). Bhabi will run for a year.

Simultaneously, SABe TV, in tune with its strategy of getting the kids on board, launched a new Toon Series called The Ultimate Book Of Spells. This show will be aired during what the channel has called the Toon Band, 7:00 to 7:30 pm, Monday to Friday. The Ultimate Book of Spells follows the magical adventures of three "gifted" kids, Cassy, Gus and Verne. SABe has completely done away with family melodrama in the prime time slot.

It's a search for the next winning formula. Nobody wants to miss out.

The trend began with the end of KBC. After that, every channel has been trying to fill in the vacuum. Programming has become much more diverse, genres long forgotten have been dusted, and taken out for fresh airing. To take just one example of how different things have become, both STAR Plus and Sony launched two programmes - Sanjivani and Dhadkan - centred at the lives of a bunch of healthcare professionals, within weeks of each other. For years, there had been no healthcare-centred serial on Indian television.

As Ashutosh Srivastava, managing director, MindShare India, puts it, "It's a time when you try something new to see if it works." Cartoons, comedy shows, thrillers, live draws of online lotteries, talent shows, melodramas, game shows, and the old staples of music, movies and entertainment - when channels fight, it is the viewer who benefits.

While STAR plans to stick to its old formula in the afternoon slots, it is experimenting in the prime-time slots. Says Tarun Katiyal, vice-president (programming), STAR Plus, "The channel has always gone for innovative programming and we have always had comedy as part of our programming mix." The genre is not new to STAR Plus. Tu Tu Main Main on STAR Plus, which has been the longest running comedy show on television in India, came to an end after more than 500 episodes. Points out Ashish Bhasin, president, Initiative Media. "What STAR is doing is hedge its bet. It is difficult to replace a programme like KBC at one go, and so it makes sense to spread the programming mix."

In many ways, say analysts, the situation is similar to the pre-KBC days. However, despite a whole series of launches, the top movers on every channel are the relatively older shows. Take STAR Plus. The older shows - Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii (Monday to Thursday, 10:00 pm) and Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (Monday to Thursday, 10:30 pm) - continue to make waves. According to TAM data for the week February 24 to March 2, among the four-plus age group in C&S homes, these programmes still dominate the Top 100 television listings. Their TVRs have consistently been above 9.5.

Of the new programmes on STAR, Sanjivani (Wednesdays, 9:00 pm) has a TVR rating of 3.20 and is ranked 52 in the Top 100 listing. Kamzor Kadii Kaun (Tuesdays, 9.00 pm) has a TVR rating of 3.26, and is ranked 48.

Rival Sony has also been banking on its older programmes. For the same period, Sony's Kkusum (9.00 pm, Monday to Friday) has a TVR rating of 4.91, and Kutumb (9:30 pm, Monday to Thursday), a TVR of 4.5. Early last month, Kkusum and Kutumb touched all-time high TVRs of 10.2 and 8.3 respectively (week ending February 2, 2002, across all C&S audiences, TAM data). Significantly, two recent launches Dhadkan and Hubahu have not been able to make it into the Top 100.

It appears Sony is working on offering an 'alternative' programming mix. The channel is pitting its new show Par Is Dil Ko Kaise Samjhaye (starting Friday, March 29 at 8.30 pm), an emotional drama, against the out and out entertainment show Kya Masti Kya Dhuum on STAR Plus (Fridays, 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm). "What we are doing is give the viewer a choice," says Nachiket Pantvaidya, vice-president, programming and production, SET. Sony is hoping a mix of innovative programming, and a slow time slot-by-time slot strategy will help it topple STAR's applecart.

For all practical purposes then, the big task for both Sony and Zee is to break the stranglehold of STAR. "STAR Plus was the first channel that created channel loyalty. In a medium as dynamic as television, that helps a lot, because any new programme that debuts on STAR will attract viewers because of sheer channel equity," points out Tapan Pal, president and CEO, Zenith Media.

That is an obstacle that rivals will have to work hard to overcome. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

First Published : September 25, 2014 04:04 PM

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