Alokananda Chakraborty

STAR to launch new programmes

STAR Plus seeks to fortify the afternoon band and rework the Sunday morning slot

STAR Plus will launch a series of new programmes this month. An official spokesperson for the channel has defined the move as part of exploring "new and different programmes". The first in the series of launches is an afternoon soap - Kumkum - Pyara Sa Bandhan - on July 15, in the 3.30 pm slot from Monday to Thursday. Here STAR Plus sticks to a formula that has served it well in the past, the saga of the Indian family. The serial revolves around the close-knit Wadhwa family, and their relationship with their daughter-in-law, Kumkum.

However, the real significance of the launch is the increasing focus of STAR on the afternoon slot, which has emerged as one of the stronger points of the channel. This is the second high profile launch in the afternoon slot this year. Bhabhi, Tuesdays, 2.00 pm to 2.30 pm, was launched in March this year. Both the serials are produced by UTV, which also produces the other winning soap opera beamed by STAR in the afternoon slot, Shagun (Mondays to Thursdays at 2:30 pm).

Analysts say after the success of Shagun, STAR Plus is looking at the afternoon slot as an independent time slot, rather than as an area to plug in repeats of prime-time serials, the role that this particular time slot has been usually assigned in television programming. "Shagun did very well, and in fact beat serials of other channels on prime time. This is why we decided to launch Kumkum, which is an independent show, and not a repeat of a prime time show," says the official spokesperson of the channel.

The figures too back this up. Among C&S audiences in the four-plus age group, for the week June 23 to June 29, the episode of Shagun that was telecast on Tuesday, June 25, at 2.30 pm, ranked 42 among the Top 100 shows. It had a TVR of 3.36. The episode telecast on June 27 at 2.30 pm, stood at No 65 and had a TVR of 2.9.

Even the other shows are doing well. The repeat of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on Tuesday, 25 June (between 2.00 pm to 2.30 pm) had a TVR of 3.66, with a rank of 36 among all C&S shows. Bhabhi's Tuesday June 25 episode (between 1.30 pm to 2.00 pm) had a TVR of 3.07, and was ranked 49. Kabhi Sautan Kabhi Saheli stood at 39, with a TVR of 2.63. Kavita, Thursdays, 3.30 pm was at 95, and has a TVR of 2.4, the same as Kasautii Zindagi Kay's Wednesday episode, which stands at 2.4 TVR. The serial was at 96 in the Top 100 shows.

Such a strong showing is important, when it comes to cornering a larger chunk of the Rs 3,000-crore television advertising market. The afternoon slot reaches an audience of housewives - women who have their afternoons free - and kids. According to media planners, this band covers almost 90 per cent of the market covered during prime time. And since in the traditional Hindi-speaking markets, fewer women work at full-time jobs, media planners see the afternoon shows as a good way to reach the major decision makers at a fraction of the cost incurred while advertising on prime time.

However, the new surprise in the programming mixture is a major mythological - Jai Mata Ki, which will be telecast starting Sunday, July 7, at 9.00 am.

Mythological serials have not been as prominent in the STAR Plus programming mixture as soap operas or game shows have been. Jai Mata Ki also marks the debut of dancer-actress Hema Malini on satellite television, in her role in the various avatars of Mata Bhubaneshwari. So why has the channel moved on to this genre? A senior media planner explains the possible strategy of the channel, "The timing of the slot assumes significance as this is one slot in which STAR Plus has yet to dominate. The channel seems to be moving in a three-pronged strategy, first capturing prime time, and then the afternoon slot and now the Sunday morning slot."

In pitting for the Sunday morning slot, which has been the stronghold of mythological serials from the early 1990s - first Ramayana and then Mahabharat on DD - STAR Plus is hoping that the potent combination of religion and the Sunday morning will help it capture yet another chunk of television viewers and straddle the top of Indian television programming. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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