Prajjal Saha

Advertisers see promise in STAR One

If the distribution is on the right track, the channel will click with viewers

Classes, or the masses? General entertainment channels have been perennially troubled by the presence of these two diametrically opposite set of viewers. Catering to the audience-taste is central to the existence of a channel because that ensures a loyal set of viewers and consequently, advertisers' money.

So, when STAR One - which wants to dominate the urban landscape of India, catering to the age group of 25-35 - recently organised a luncheon meet in Mumbai for advertisers and media planners, this was a sign of how the TV business is going to be handled in future.

Advertisers and media planners got to see the show-reels of STAR One's upcoming programmes in a formal business environment. In fact, this was the first time where a strategy of this kind has been adopted by a broadcaster to launch a channel. The usual norm is to organise an evening party with cocktails and a few mandatory show-reels. For the record, STAR One is scheduled to be launched on November 1.

Agencyfaqs! caught up with few of these advertisers and media planners, and tried to get their opinion and views about the upcoming channel.

Hiren Pandit, general manager, Mindshare, says, "STAR One is rich in content and it's evident that it has the right pedigree to belong to the STAR bouquet. Some of its programmes are sure to be a big hit. The channel will cater to the top-end viewers of STAR Plus and bottom-end viewers of the English channels."

In short, he describes the channel to be urban, modern and cosmopolitan.

Pandit says, "Among the several programmes, Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai is the comedy show which will certainly catch the fancy of the viewers." This programme is an episodic comedy series and the cast includes Satish Shah - known for the first comedy serial in Indian television - Ye Jo Hain Jindagi.

Another show which struck Pandit is a serial called 'Family Business', where a guy comes back to India from the US and finds his father to be a mafia don. He is then forced to join his family business which is partly legal and partly illegal.

Pandit also likes the concept of the show, 'One Day of the Week', where the channel will premiere movies made by new filmmakers exclusively for the channel.

Kaushik Roy, marketing head, Reliance Infocomm, who also attended the presentation says, "STAR One is a channel which would fit into the likings of sophisticated Hindi speaking urban youth, and especially males."

He describes the channel as urban, Westernised and as having an edge over other general entertainment channels.

From an advertisers' perspective, he says that channel has been sharply segmented but still, he would initially like to see the penetration level of the channel.

Among the different shows, he liked a game show called 'The He Man' hosted by Shekhar Suman. He also liked the show 'Special Squad', which is thriller based on forensic science, produced by UTV. Apart from this, he also voted for the comedy show - Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai.

Another game show - which the STAR executives are very hopeful about - is Bluff Master, produced by a Siddhartha Basu. The concept of the show is the same as that of the internationally famous game show - Dirty Rotten Cheater - where six players answer questions and win money - but one of them is secretly being fed with all the answers. If the honest players want to take home any money, they must expose the cheater.

However, Pandit of Mindshare does not seem to be too bullish about this show. He says, "Game shows have never been very successful in this country except for the one and only - Kaun Banega Crorepati."

Bluff Master is also being hosted by a celebrity and Pandit says, "If this show becomes a success, it can certainly change the trend of television viewing on weekdays."

Another show which excites the channel executives is Pyar Ki Kashti Mein, shot entirely in a cruise ship and the story revolves around the relationship of a young boy and girl, who want to get married.

Roy of Reliance Infocomm says, "The channel has every potential to set a new trend. However, it still needs to be seen whether the channel will manage a viable size of viewers. Unlike ZEE, STAR Plus and Sony which cater to the masses, if STAR One becomes a success, it could set a new trend in the general entertainment business."

An excited Ajay Vidyasagar, senior vice-president marketing and communication, STAR India, says, "The basic idea behind launching STAR One is to bring in those viewers who have stopped watching television. "With STAR One, we want to dominate the urban landscape of India, catering to the age group of 25-35. At STAR One, we are taking the shows out of home and taking it to outdoor location. In fact, there is a show on STAR One which has been entirely shot in Goa."

According to senior STAR executives, there is a segment of viewers which watches television but in an erratic manner and STAR One hopes to develop a systematic habit of television viewing among this segment.

Vidyasagar says, "If one talks in terms movies, STAR One will cater to viewers who enjoy movies such as Dil Chahta Hain or Main Hoon Na."

The STAR executive says, "Whenever we buy any product, we first touch it to get its feel. However in TV space buying, decisions are based on data and figures. When we organised the tete-a-tete with advertisers and media planners, we wanted them to get a feel of the product."

This interaction between the channel and the advertisers is being taken forward to other cities such as Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. The Delhi event is, in fact, happening today.

© 2004 agencyfaqs!

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