What could be more exciting than seeing the top three general entertainment channels locking horns in a battle royale by taking on one another in the same territory… which, in this case, would be the same time band or programming slot? That is, after all, the expected thing to do, says conventional wisdom. However, a look at the strategies currently being employed by the three lead channels points to something else.
STAR, Sony and ZEE are no doubt waging a war to win eyeballs, but the interesting bit is that they are not necessarily adopting a who-blinks-first approach in their endeavour to woo audiences. In other words, rival launches in the same time slot or band are being more or less avoided. On the contrary, the approach is more one of building on strengths and finding new areas or avenues of growth.
Sony Entertainment Television set the ball rolling with a revamp of its Friday line-up in the months of February and March. The objective, according to Sunil Lulla, executive vice-president, Sony Entertainment Television, was to fortify the evening band, and add an element of melodrama to its shows. Heena, the long-running serial telecast at 9.30 pm on Fridays, bid goodbye, while the one-hour weekend thriller Kya Hadsaa Kya Haqeeqat, telecast at 8.00 pm, was rechristened Kab Kaise Kahan, and truncated to fit into half an hour. Consequently, the 8.30 pm slot saw the launch of Balaji soap Kkehna Hai Kuch Mujko extending from Friday to Sunday. Socio-mythological drama Devi was presented in a new format for an hour at 9.00 pm, while Crime Patrol and CID, telecast at 10.00 pm and 10.30 pm (respectively), were refurbished as well.
STAR, meanwhile, swapped its weekend line-up with the STAR Shanivaar programming block moving to Sundays, and the Sunday movie or event being telecast on Saturdays at 8.00 pm. It also launched a new show at 9.00 pm on Sundays titled Koie Jane Na, marking its foray into fictional programming on Sundays. "Normally, family-members tend to stick home on Sundays, with the next day being the start of the working week, while Saturdays are earmarked for an evening out," Deepak Segal, senior vice-president, content and communication, STAR India, had explained the rationale behind the shuffling in an earlier interview with agencyfaqs!. "Seeing this trend, we decided to offer something compelling on Sundays, because the frequent grouse is that there is nothing to watch on that day."
Sony, of course, responded to these measures by beefing up its Saturday line-up with fictional programmes and slotting its movies on Sundays at 9.00 pm. Saaksshi, a new show centred at a young woman who works as an undercover agent, was launched at 9.00 pm prime time on Saturday, April 10, and Kkoi Dil Mein Hai, the youth-centric Balaji soap telecast on Sundays at 9.00 pm, was moved to Saturday 10.00 pm.
For ZEE, its prime time daily line-up has been the focus area with the launch of thriller show Kaun at 10.00 pm, sitcom Hum Sab Barati at 8.00 pm and woman-centric show Lavanya at 8.30 pm. Sunil Khanna, president, ZEE TV, reiterates that the programming team will concentrate on the 8.00-11.00 pm time band. "However, we are not neglecting other time bands either," he states.
Though the channel has slotted popular shows of yesteryears in the mornings and afternoons on weekdays, no fresh programming, per se, has been introduced in these time bands. Khanna justifies these moves claiming that the response to these shows has been encouraging. "ZEE is more than a decade old, and we have a library of programmes that the new generation of viewers hasn't had an opportunity to see. This initiative is aimed at introducing these viewers to some of our popular programmes over the years." Of the new ZEE initiatives in the pipeline, one is a massive ground event titled The Big Break. After the ZEE Cine Awards earlier this year, The Big Break will be the second major on-ground initiative for the channel, though officials from the network will not be drawn into a conversation about it.
STAR, on the other hand, is looking at the afternoon time band with renewed vigour with the impending launch of Balaji Telefilms' Kesar at 2.00 pm on April 19. The channel has a mix of prime time repeats and original shows in the afternoon time band, with the new launch set to consolidate its position even further. The channel has also slated a vacation special for children titled Bachcha Party, which will be launched on Friday, April 16, at 6.30 pm.
After weekends, Sony has trained its sights at the 10.00 pm slot on weekdays with the forthcoming launch of campus caper Yeh Meri Life Hai. The channel has also acquired the television rights of Hindi blockbusters such as Baghban, Koi Mil Gaya and Gangaajal, which will be telecast in the coming months. Â© 2004 agencyfaqs!