To coincide with its tenth anniversary this October, Zee Telefilms has embarked on a major strategic revamp of its network to particularly shake off Star Plus and Aaj Tak with a view to regain its once dominant position.
The revamp blue print of Zee Telefilms drawn up by its mercurial chairman Subhash Chandra will focus mainly on general entertainment Zee TV, Zee Cinema and Zee News channels. The biggest challenge before Subhash Chandra is to substantially increase viewership base of Zee TV which currently stands at 36 million, way behind rival Star TV's viewership of 54 million. Zee Telefilms restructuring strategy stems from the basic realisation that Zee TV has lagged behind Star TV because it lost the 'Subhash Chandra touch'. So, before revamping the channels with sound programming strategy, Chandra has taken a far reaching decision to effect complete family control over the channels.
The realisation has also dawned on Zee Supremo Chandra that their 'hire & fire' policy in the past had considerably damaged the network's growth prospects. So, now as part of its crucial strategy, Zee Telefilms has decided to bring in a sense of belongingness among its staffers.
On the programming front, Zee Telefilms in a well thought out move, is out to break the Monday to Thursday viewing pattern of weekday serials, established by Star Plus. The whole exercise, according to a senior Zee official is targeted at breaking the tight grip of Star Plus' week days serials on viewers.
To achieve that, Zee bosses have changed the viewing pattern of weekday serials from Monday to Thursday to Sunday to Wednesday. "The idea is to create a psychological barrier to prevent Star Plus viewers from seeing weekly climax of popular serials like Saas Bhi Kabhi…., Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani etc. on Thursdays", a senior Zee official told exchange4media.
In order to wean away dedicated Star Plus viewers on Thursdays, Zee Telefilms is betting on Bollywood blockbusters like Legend of Bhagat Singh, Road, Humraaz etc. Zee has spent a whopping sum of over Rs. 40 crore to premiere these mega movies on every Thursday till January next.
On Fridays, Zee is further strengthening its popular line up of 'Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai' and 'Sare Ga Ma' by adding two more new shows. For revamping Saturday programming, Zee is following Sony's tested programming model that catapulted the network to a big league. Zee has lined up a series of star-studded events like Hrithik Roshan Show, Bollywood Cine Awards in New York, Zee Cine Awards etc. till January next. Sundays will be reserved for weekly serials.
On the news front, Zee bosses' strategy revolves around making Zee News a reporter led channel with lesser focus on studio anchors to make it more viewer friendly. As part of this strategy, Zee News is adopting the model of all live news to beat rival Aaj Tak in its own game. The live coverage of an anti-terrorist operation in Kashmir on September 24 by the Channel (described as first of its kind in the history of Indian broadcasting) was part of Zee's new game plan. In fact recently Zee News has became pro-active, breaking several news stories to pip the 'fastest channel' to stay on top.
The timing of Zee's restructuring drive is crucial as it coincides with the festive season. And to publicise its 'operation revamp' among viewers, Zee Telefilms has launched a major campaign on blockbuster films and serials. So while Zee has geared up for a come back, it will be viewers verdict that will finally decide its fortune.