Can Simply Shekhar move the audience?

Into its third week, the show has managed to garner a decent response

The Zee brass is decidedly upbeat. Into its third week, The Simply Shekhar Show has managed to garner a decent response.

While the TVRs for the show haven't really skyrocketed, early indicators highlight the potential of this programme. The first episode, aired on July 30, featuring Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray, opened with TVR of 2.0, followed by 2.5 on July 31, with city-specific figures going as follows: Mumbai 5.6 and 4.9, Delhi 0.3 and 0.5, Kanpur 2.9 and 3.1 and Kolkata 0.5 and 0.7. Interestingly, the Shilpa Shetty episode (on August 6 and 7) had a comparatively lesser audience score with figures for overall Hindi-speaking markets reading as 1.2 for both the days. The city-specific figures are as follows: 1.1 and 1.7 for Mumbai, 1.0 and 0.1 for Delhi, 1.0 and 1.6 for Kanpur and 1.0 and 0.7 for Kolkata (Source: TAM Media Research).

This trend, according to analysts, highlights the "risk factor" attached with personality-driven shows as well as Zee's calculated strategy to try and get back "lapsed audiences" to the channel's fold. As a Mumbai-based media planner puts it, "The personality on the show will eventually determine the audience for the programme and by introducing celebrities from diverse fields, I think, the ultimate aim of the channel is to try and get people of varying tastes to sample the product."

According to data available with TAM Media, almost 55 to 60 per cent viewers in Mumbai stayed on for more than 20 minutes watching the Thackeray episode from the time they switched to Zee. And again, considering that Thackeray is a revered figure in Maharashtra, Mumbai and the rest of the state had a higher score as compared to metros such as Delhi and Kolkata. (TAM figures for the rest of Maharashtra on July 30 and 31 for The Simply Shekhar Show were 0.1 and 3.6 respectively).

The moot question now is, whether Simply Shekhar can turn the tide for Zee as KBC did for Star? While it is early days yet, some analysts believe that it has the potential to swing Zee's fortunes.

As Amit Ray, head of the Mumbai wing of Optimum Media Solutions (Mudra's media arm) explains, "Simply Shekhar is a well-packaged and exciting product. You have a star anchor such as Shekhar Suman, and that brings in a certain qualitative value to the product. However, I am not too sure whether it could swing the tide in favour of Zee considering that it is not a novel product. The format seems more or less similar to the earlier Movers & Shakers show (on Sony)."

It is here that InHouse Productions, which has collaborated with Shekhar Suman's Seventy-thirty Entertainment to produce the show, begs to differ. According to the show's executive producer, Shradha Kulkarni, the format of the show is very "flexible" as opposed to Movers & Shakers, which was also produced by the same company. "There is no fixed format to the show. We could invite a guest over for one episode (as in the case of the Thackeray and Shilpa Shetty episodes) or simply have a performance on the other (as in the case of last week's episode featuring renowned astrologer, Bejan Daruwala and singer Abhijeet). This week's episodes (August 20 and 21) will feature Sunidhi Chauhan on day one and Brazilian belly dancers on day two, not as "guests" but performers. "We are trying to be different with every episode and experiment as we go along," states Kulkarni.

Incidentally, Apurva Purohit, president, Zee TV, claims that the channel will use its "network strength" to promote its new programmes. To put things in perspective, the channel has launched a slew of pogrammes in the recent past including Kammal, a soap from the Balaji Telefilms stable, which is aired from Monday to Thursday between 8.00 pm and 8.30 pm, Love Marriage, aired from 9.00 pm to 9.30 pm between Monday and Thursday, and Kaarvan Kismat Ka, a gameshow hosted by Jaaved Jafferi, on Mondays at 10.30 pm.

"Game shows are more a launch vehicle for our online lotteries," elaborates Purohit. "The mass draw is really family soaps and serials and we are ensuring that we make our presence felt through three soaps, Kammal, Love Marriage and Kitty Party." Kitty Party has been penned by Shobha De and revolves around the lives of eight women. It premiered on August 19 at 10.00 pm and will be aired between Monday and Thursday every week.

With the initial curiosity about its new programmes high among viewers, nobody is more thrilled than Zee Telefilms. Adds Apurva Purohit, president, Zee TV, "We obviously hope that all our new programmes do well. Simply Shekhar has generated quite a buzz in the marketplace with decent ratings, and Shekhar has been highly appreciated for his role in the show. I hope we can keep up the good work." © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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