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STAR unfazed for now

By , agencyfaqs! | In | July 31, 2002
Despite strong challenges from rivals, the channel does not see any immediate threat


The two main rivals of STAR, Sony and Zee have launched a slew of programmes in recent weeks.

On July 29 (Monday) Sony launched the Madhuri Dixit-hosted Kahin Na Kahin Koi Hai (KNKKH) which would run Monday to Thursday, 8.30 pm. In the pipeline are shows such as Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat, a thriller from the Balaji stable, which will play out on the weekends, Bachke Rehnaa, a gameshow with Mohnish Behl as host, and Kuch Kehti Hai Yeh Dhun, a musical quiz show hosted by pop star Raageshwari. All of these are expected to be aired during the 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm slot. Rival Zee has also taken on STAR Plus in its stronghold - the 10.30 pm slot with the debut on July 30, of The Simply Shekhar Show. It will be telecast Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:30 pm.

However, the new shows have not fazed STAR Plus. "Our shows on prime-time continue to rule and are at the top. We have the Top 20 shows on C&S and 41 out of the Top 50 shows at this point of time. Every new show is a challenge, whether it is on STAR Plus or any other channel, and that's competitive television," says a combative Tarun Katial, senior vice-president (programming) STAR Plus.

At the heart of the strategy of both Zee and Sony is an effort to present a diverse set of programmes and to extend the concept of prime time. If they succeed, they would be doing what STAR did a couple of years ago - using Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) as a lynchpin around which it build a string of successful serials. The advantage of STAR was that it scored a pilot success with KBC around which newer slots were created. Says Katial, "After the launch of KBC we also launched Kyunki and Kahaani, at a time when people thought gameshows are the order of the day. We proved everyone wrong and succeeded with the soaps and then launched a few more at prime time. Even now, we are leading at prime time. All this goes to show we don't go by a so-called trend or fad, but our own strategy and plan to give the best."

What worked in STAR's favour was not channel loyalty as such but a clever programming strategy. STAR captured the 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm slot with KBC, and then captured the 10.00 pm to 11.00 pm slot, ensuring that it had a presence in prime time programming, if ever KBC was to decline or fall.

It is the presence of a key pilot programme that both Sony and Zee lack. "They are trying to do it all at once. Have a hit show, and at the same time capture the slot," points out a senior media planner. The closest is Sony, which has its strength in, Kkusum, and Kutumb, in the 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm slot, and is hoping that KNKKH will get the 8.30 pm to 9.30 slot in its favour. However, both Kkusum and Kutumb are not the mega hits that KBC was. So, rather than built its strength around a prime-time show that is an unparalleled hit, Sony is hoping that KNKKH will be a hit, and that the 8.00 pm to 10.00 pm slot will also fall in its favour.

However, one weakness of this strategy is that though there definitely is a gap in television programming where various serials are fighting it out, the extension of the prime-time strategy - which is essentially what STAR Plus did - will be difficult to repeat. "While there is definitely scope to come out with a different pattern of programming, the extension of prime time has a lot to do with a sociological process, rather than programming strategy as such," points out Ashish Bhasin, president, Initiative Media. Among the factors that decide prime time are when people come home from work, when the TV is switched on, and even availability of electricity and cable connection.

Another factor is that there are quite a few popular programmes already in this slot. So, in the new strategy with the mega KNKKH, what Sony will do is take on STAR's relatively weaker offerings in the 8.00 to 9.00 pm slot. Zee on the other hand has taken the challenge head on with Zee The Simply Shekhar Show debuting against Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki and Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.

With a markedly different scenario than when KBC debuted, STAR Plus - which rules every time slot of the day including afternoons - for the time being at least, can afford to rest on its laurels. None of the earlier attempts of these two rivals have cut ice with viewers. The real challenge will be if The Simply Shekhar Show, or KNKKH reach the heights KBC did.

That will be a game worth watching. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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