Alokananda Chakraborty

SABe TV steps out of comedy

The channel plans to build on its already loyal audience to explore new options

Going out of its strong suit comedy, the Sri Adhikari Brothers Television Network-owned television channel SABe TV, will venture into the thriller and the game show genres this month. Search, a serial on paranormal life, will debut August 12 (and will run Mondays to Thursdays, 9.00 pm), and a new game show Lootmall will debut August 23 at 8.00 pm. However, the channel is not abandoning its strength - comedy.

Raamkhilavaan CM n Family, loosely based on one of India's most colourful chief ministers Laloo Prasad Yadav, debuted on August 5 at 8:30 pm. Produced by Aswani Dheer, veteran comedy writer and creator of the popular Office Office, Raamkhilavaan… will be aired twice a week. Also coming back to the channel's bouquet of offerings is the popular Yes Boss in a new avatar, which will be aired Wednesdays and Thursdays, at 8.30 pm.

This new programming mix, the channel hopes, will give it the much-needed edge and propel it to the Big Three League. Currently, the channel is the country's fourth largest entertainment channel.

Earlier, SABe TV had taken the bold decision - by Indian television programming standards - to stay away from family melodrama-based serials, the bread-and-butter of Indian television audiences and channels, in the 7.00 pm to 10.30 pm slot. Instead, the channel chose to take its chances with a mix of current affair programmes and comedy- and fantasy-based shows.

Now the question is, why step out into genres that are so crowded such as thrillers and game shows? "Comedy is our forte, and we are very strong in that slot. Taking that as a base, we are introducing new formats that will add flavour to the channel, while staying within the broad framework of giving relief to the viewer," explains Shubhra Shandilya, creative supervisor, SABe TV.

While the decision at first might smack of a dilution of core competency, analysts point out that such a change was long overdue. Having already established itself as a relief channel, SABe TV has its own, albeit small, loyal audience. The new shows are thus an attempt to reach out to newer audiences. For this, the channel is counting on the ennui that is setting in among the audiences with regard to the soaps. Industry sources say that this is one of the reasons why all channels have set out on launching different programmes.

"The continued popularity of the bahu serials have more to do with Ekta's ability to throw up a surprise, than with any popularity of the genre as such," says one senior media planner. The channel is also counting on the interactive format of Lootmall, which will have actor Chunky Pandey as host and teams comprising family units such as father-son duos fighting each other on the set.

At the same time, by going in for game shows and thrillers, the channel is taking a calculated risk. SABe TV is counting on a combination of publicity blitz (which will hit Mumbai later this month) and great content to popularise the shows. "We shall back the publicity with programming content," says Shandilya.

But going by relative channel shares, making a place among the Top 3 in the 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm slot might just be a tad difficult. According to TAM figures for June, for C&S viewers in the 4-years-plus age group in Hindi-speaking markets SABe TV's channel share stood at 3.18 per cent on Mondays, 2.56 per cent on Tuesdays, 1.77 per cent on Wednesdays, 2.6 per cent on Thursdays, 0.56 per cent on Fridays, 0.95 per cent on Saturdays and 0.47 on Sundays.

In comparison, the statistics of the Big Three were far ahead.

During the same period and among the same audience group Sony had 3.83 per cent share on Mondays, 3.06 on Tuesdays, 2.91 on Wednesdays, 2.94 on Thursdays, 9.12 on Fridays, 12.71 on Saturdays and 5.51 on Sundays. Zee TV's share stood at 3.79 for Mondays, 3.88 for Tuesdays, 7.32 for Wednesdays, 4.49 for Thursdays, 6.42 for Fridays, 7.03 for Saturdays and 2.58 for Sundays. Market leader STAR Plus still remained virtually untouchable with the corresponding figures being 35.49 per cent, 40.88 per cent, 43.43 per cent, 33.46 per cent, 26.14 per cent, 12.77 per cent and 12.95 per cent.

And so, the new programming will be crucial, and the channel will have to work really hard, if SABe TV is to move up that elusive notch to the Big Three League. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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