Ananya Saha

SET fights back with weekend plans

The channel introduces the concept of the Friday line-up to regain TVRs

Sony Entertainment Television (SET) was enjoying second position in the general entertainment channel (GEC) category, steering steadily behind STAR Plus, till Zee zoomed ahead in December 2005.

The trend has continued till now and SET is still caught in the number three slot. According to media planners, it was weak weekend programming (which is traditionally strong on most channels) that was causing SET to lose out on viewers, who were moving to other GECs during the weekend. But now, with plans to revamp the Friday slot from March 10, SET is trying to win back its viewers.

NP Singh, COO, SET India, asserts that the growth in Zee’s viewership is seasonal, brought about mainly by the popularity of ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge’. He says, “Our channel witnessed a similar trend during ‘Fame Gurukul’.”

He adds, “SET has never lost out on viewership. Our TVRs have been steady, they have not been losing out. And since the past four weeks, our channel has started moving up again.”

The new line-up for Friday nights from 8-11.30 pm will include ‘Deal Ya No Deal’ at 8 pm, followed by the one-hour ‘CID’. The Indianised version of AXN’s ‘Fear Factor’ at 10 pm will showcase TV celebrities and common people. This will be followed by ‘Kandy Floss’ at 11 pm. While ‘Fear Factor’ will be hosted by Mukul Dev, ‘Kandy Floss’, a TV magazine produced by Balaji Telefilms, will be hosted by Archana Puran Singh. The show is a new version of ‘Uncensored’, also hosted by Puran Singh.

And this is not all. According to Singh, “The channel is planning to introduce more shows in the afternoon band and, after April, there will be a fresh mix of programming on the channel. SET also plans to revamp the primetime band on weekdays by launching four-five new shows by April.” Singh explains, “We are a GEC, so we have to be family inclusive, rather than exclusive. The channel will see a good mix of fiction and non-fiction in the coming months with due preference given to all family members.”

However, media planners disagree with the two new programmes being family inclusive.

Hiren Pandit, GM, Mindshare, Mumbai, says, “AXN’s ‘Fear Factor’ was serving a niche English audience, but SET’s version is completely new for the Indian masses. People might not want to watch this show. Even if they do, it will be mainly male viewers.”

He adds, “The celebrity faces might deliver the TRPs in the beginning, but, obviously, two programmes can’t pull up a channel. Though the channel might be trying to get along with the introduction of non-fiction programming, it’s a bit early to say whether it will be a success.”

Anita Nayyar, executive director, Starcom India, says, “The placing of the new programmes is either strategically or conceptually wrong. The channel is going overboard with the celebrity base – it might be right in using the base if it has one, but it might end up fatiguing the audience.”

Meanwhile, Singh of SET maintains, “Our new programming mix of reality shows, variety entertainment and talent shows such as ‘Extreme Make-over’ will draw the audiences in the future. With innovative programming and the introduction of multiple genres, the channel will have nothing to lose. Plus, ‘Indian Idol 3’ will be back soon to excite the audience.”

But depending on programming has not proved too lucky for SET in the past. Singh comments, “We are trying hard to take the channel to the top slot. SET is picking up the very best of shows in the market. The rest is up to destiny.”

SET is also planning a new innovative marketing strategy which, according to Singh, cannot be revealed before Tuesday. Tuesday marks the official launch for the new line-up. Singh adds, “The channel is planning a 360-degree approach to tap all mediums beyond the on-air promotions on the Sony bouquet.”

© 2006 agencyfaqs!

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