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ZEE turns a new leaf

By , agencyfaqs! | In | February 17, 2003
A fresh line-up for Thursday Premieres and a handful of innovations are the latest from the channel


On October 10, 2002, ZEE launched its Har Ghar Par Premiere initiative with much gusto. The Legend of Bhagat Singh was the first movie to be screened among a lot of 16 that included the likes of Road, Hathyar and of course, the box office draw Humraaz.

The concept was devised to stir viewership among TV households and lift the flagging fortunes of the channel. It did initially. Humraaz notched up a TVR score of 6.3 for the week ending October 19, 2002. Even the Hrithik Roshan-Kareena Kapoor-Rani Mukherjee starrer Mujse Dosti Karoge garnered a decent 4.6 for the week ending November 9, 2002 (Source: Tam Media Research; Target Audience: C&S 4-plus years). But for the most part during the first four months of the Thursday Premieres, ZEE's movie titles hovered in the region of 2 and 3, at times not even finding a mention in the TAM C&S Top 100.

Even as the channel grapples with this revelation, it has announced a fresh list of movies for February and March 2003. Included are such offbeat flicks as Makdee, Leela, Agnivarsha, Mitr - My Friend and 16 December, as well as the more mainstream Maseeha, Yeh Kaise Mohabbat and Akhiyon Se Goli Mare. According to Apurva Purohit, president, ZEE TV, the "factor of recency" was crucial in the acquisition of the present lot. "Our experience coupled with viewer feedback suggested that films with a lead time of four to six months from the date of release do well when telecast on TV. Which is why we have a clutch of films primarily released over the last few months," she explains.

Apart from perking up its movie line-up, the channel is set to launch a slot titled Chausath Panne (64 pages) on March 30 at 8.30 pm. A half-hour block, this slot will see "tautly paced, tightly scripted stories" extended over sixty-four episodes. "This slot again was a result of viewer feedback," says Purohit. "Most viewers find dailies to be meandering in nature. They go on and on. Stories to debut during Chausath Panne will have a definite beginning, middle and end."

'Keeping it tight and taut' seems to be the new plank for the channel. Besides the crisp Chausath Panne, the channel is working on an untitled block that will see stories reaching their natural conclusion within four episodes over Sunday to Wednesday. In other words, the churn rate will be a lot higher as opposed to daily serials or soaps, which are the rage on TV today. Further, the popular gameshow Sansui Antakshari has acquired a thematic flavour with four episodes (including the finals) spread over a month.

"We believe in experimenting with programming," reiterates Purohit. "Be it with stories, tenure or genre, we feel the need to experiment and be flexible," she adds.

It is this 'flexibility' to ideas that seems to be the driving principle behind the channel's bid for the top spot. "In any market or industry, the third player is compelled to innovate to stay in the reckoning," states a senior media planner from a Top 10 agency. "ZEE's case is no different. When everybody zigs, it would have to zag, hoping that something would click someday."

Be it the concept of a branded movie time band (Thursday Premieres) or a slot devoted exclusively for telefilms (Kambaqt Ishq) or even a switch in timelines from the conventional Monday to Thursday to the radical Sunday to Wednesday, ZEE is working overtime to find that one winning formula that will hook viewers on to the channel and induce stickiness. "It is not as if the channel hasn't achieved the purpose of sampling," reiterates a media observer. "It is far better than what it was a year ago but stickiness has to improve," he adds. © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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