"The number two player always works harder," avers a senior media planner based in Mumbai. This statement could well sum up the philosophy of Hindi general entertainment channel Sony. With the third year running since rival STAR effectively dethroned it, the No 2 player is indeed very restless. "They constantly need to second guess what will work and keep trying out various formats and genres," explains an industry observer.
In keeping with this philosophy, the channel has switched its attention to one genre, which it hopes can help woo fickle audiences. If the recent spate of launches is any indication, then Sony is concentrating on thrillers a wee bit more.
The channel has just launched the fourth series of weekend show Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat on March 21, while mini-series Force One featuring Mandira Bedi was launched on March 14. If nothing else, these launches indicate Sony's commitment to continue with the thriller format by adding to its existing list, comprising star performer CID, horror show Aahat and Achanak 37 Saal Baad.
What is interesting about Force One is the fact that the mini-series format (the show will run for three Fridays through March) is actually quite untested on Indian television. "Worldwide, mini-series are big," asserts Sunil Lulla, executive vice-president, Sony Entertainment Television. "In India, the episodic, weekly format continues from the Doordarshan days. But, television to me is a challenging medium giving you the space to do something different."
Kya Haadsa has been well received, he claims, especially among its target audience of young women. "It is doing an average rating of 3," he adds. A look at the weighted average for the month of January 2003 for the target audience of women in the age group of 15-34 in the metros of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata shows Lulla's optimism isn't misplaced. The average TVR figure stands at 3.29 when taking into account original telecast time between 8.00 to 9.00 pm. Repeats plus primetime telecasts puts the figure at 3.94. (Compiled by Media Planning Group, Mumbai, from TAM data.) "We are gung-ho about this property," says Lulla about Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat.
In fact, the elements of a thriller seem to be permeating Sony's regular fare as well with the half-hour social thriller Devi telecast at 9.00 pm on Fridays and the one-hour comic thriller Kabhi Biwi Kabhi Jasoos, which is aired every Tuesday at 8.00 pm. "The efficiency of a thriller is high," claims Lulla. "The viewership for thrillers is double the programming time devoted to this genre on Indian television," he adds.
The success of this genre can be best gauged by a simple analysis done by TAM Media Research. According to the monitoring body, thrillers accounted for 1 per cent of telecast time across entertainment channels in 2001-02, whereas corresponding viewership was 5 per cent implying that the efficiency index was a whopping 500.
A separate analysis of programme viewership versus break viewership done some four months ago by TAM throws up some interesting findings in favour of the genre. The exit of viewers during break time is lower, which speaks for the genre's ability to "hold its audience". In other words, break viewership is close to programme viewership, which isn't the case with gameshows that have high exits during commercial time, indicate analysts.
Whether Sony can hook the audience with its new brand of entertainment, only time will tell. © 2003 agencyfaqs!