Start with Friday. That, in a nutshell, is the way Sony plans to topple main rival STAR Plus' applecart.
Wise from the experience of Zee - which launched a whole series of new shows last year - Sony has adopted a siege tactics. Slot-by-slot, block-by-block, and day-by-day. "We began by consolidating the 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm slot. And from May to September we will concentrate on the 10.00 pm to 11.00 pm slot. In September, when Shubh Vivaah airs, we will concentrate on the 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm slot," Nachiket Pantvaidya, vice-president, programming and production, SET, outlines the channel's plans. He expects reality show Shubh Vivaah to do very well.
As part of the strategy, the channel is also concentrating on strengthening programming on days on which it has a fair following - such as Friday. Nachiket calls it "the Friday strategy" - the launching of strong shows on that day. Two news serials are slated for Friday launch. Achanak, 37 Saal Baad, will premiere on Friday, March 22, at 10.30 pm. Another show, Par Is Dil Ko Kaise Samjhaye, will premiere on March 29. "At this time, Sony is quite strong on Friday, and they would like to concentrate there first, before moving on," points out Ashish Bhasin, president, Initiative Media.
With the two new shows, the channel hopes to entrench itself at prime time on Fridays. All its strong shows are aired that day. Star of the channel, Kkusum, which ranks 19 among the Top 100 shows on C&S, whose TVR ratings have been consistently above the 4.5 mark, starts at 9.00 pm, followed by Heena, ranked 94 in the Top 100 shows, and a TVR rating of 2.54, at 9.30 pm. This is followed by CID, which is ranked 32 in the Top 100 shows with a TVR of 3.7. (The figures are from TAM data for the week February 24 to March 2, 2002, in the four-plus age group in C&S homes.) Achanak would be aired immediately after that. Thus Sony is aiming to create a solid block of programming from 9.00 pm to 11.00 pm, right at the heart of prime time.
Achanak, based on the story of a town where everyone is slowly being caught in a web of evil, is being sold as a psychological thriller. Sony officials are quick to scotch doubts that the channel is over taxing the thriller genre, where it already has two shows, Aahat and CID. "Achanak is different from other psychological thrillers," claims Anupama Mandloi, director, on-air programming, SET. "We are trying to create an element of unease through ordinary events. In Aahat, on the other hand, there is continuous drama, and a single continuous narrative," says director Mukul Abhyankar. The producers of the show are Pradeep Uppoor and Neo Films, and the writer is Shridhar Raghavan, who says that the serial grew out of a quest for answers to questions for which there were no answers.
With the second show Par Is Dil Ko Kaise Samjhaye, Sony is hoping to reposition itself as a "different" channel with "alternative" programming. The show, which is being promoted as an emotional drama, is pitted against Kya Masti Kya Dhuum on STAR Plus (Fridays, 8.00 to 9.00 pm). The show is directed by Imtiyaz Punjabi, produced by Shabina Khan, and is scripted by Anil Nagpal. Here, Sony is hoping that those who are not amused by the uproarious antics of Sonali Bendre, will look for something really different - like the story of a man married to two sisters by a twist of fate - true to the finest traditions of Hindi soap.
The question to which Sony is really looking an answer for is whether the present strategy of proceeding slowly to the top will really help.
The quest might prove to be as thrilling as the happenings in the mythical town of Gahota, where Achanak is set. © 2002 agencyfaqs!