The block-by-block building concept of Sony Entertainment Television seems to be paying off. Channel officials explain that 2004 has turned out to be a good year for the channel. The year saw Sony move its concentration from the 9.00 to 10.00 pm band to 10.00 to 10.30 pm, interspersed with action on the weekends. And now the channel has shifted focus on the 8.00 to 9.00 pm band, launching two new shows on the slot on August 2.
Year 2004 has given Sony a fair mix of audience loss and gain. Gain has largely come in weekdays. Looking at the core CS 15–34, ABC in the 9.00 to 10.30 pm slot, the weekly channel share graph in the Hindi speaking markets has grown until week 8, when the channel has thrown up figures like 11.2 and 11.45 per cents in week six and eight respectively. In the following period, the average increases to 14-plus per cent and more or less keeps up the figure until week 23.
In subsequent period, in weeks 26 and 27, the channel has managed highs like 14.8 and 17.1 per cent. In essence, the channel has registered increase. While on the face of it, the difference is in small numbers, when seen in tandem with other mass channels, the hike becomes important as the leader has lost points in the slot.
Until week 19, STAR India reflects an erratic graph, giving the channel highs like 41.32 and dips like 38.14, cricket week dips notwithstanding. From week 24 to 28, the slot has given the channel a continual dip taking it from 40.8 channel share to 36.41.
Speaking on this growth, Sunil Lulla, EVP and Business Head, SET India expresses, “Our strategy of innovatively qualitative entertainment has helped us increase our market share steadily in the year.” However, most of this growth comes from the metros. Is the channel looking at increasing its foothold in the smaller markets as well? Lulla responds, “The metros are important markets. That is where the advertisers’ targets largely come from. But we are looking at strengthening ourselves in the smaller towns as well. However, this too will happen in a systematic way.”
While 2004 means growth, it also means experiments for the channel, of which, some worked and some failed. Largely the failures came from the channel’s weekend block. The channel launched programmes like ‘Kkehna Hai Kuch Mujhko’, ‘King Aassman Ka Ek Raja’, ‘Saaksshi’ in the block and none have really delivered for the channel. Does that mean that the attempt of a weekend audience on the channel’s part didn’t work? “We did build the weekend slot but if the audience reaction indicates that there really isn’t a market for such shows in the weekends, we can’t be stubborn about it either and hence these changes,” Lulla explains.
Coming back to the 8.00 to 9.00 pm band, the attempt is to get the kids’ audience at 8.00 with ‘Hum 2 Hain Na’ and the youth audience at the 8.30 band with ‘Ayushmaan’. Lulla explains that the shows are a result of research in the respective targets and looks at catering to their needs. Says he, “Children like intrigue, adventure and characters they can relate to and fun. That is what we have based this Televisa adaptation, ‘Friends to the Rescue’ on. As for the young adults, they want more pep, fashion and trends. ‘Ayushmaan’ is packaged to deliver this.”
‘Hum…’ is Miditech’s first attempt on a daily and the production house is excited about it. As for ‘Ayushmaan’, production house Cinevistaa’s, who have Sanjivani to their credit, inform that even though the show has an uncanny resemblance to ‘Doogie Howser MD’, it is an original.
Speaking on the occasion of the launch of these properties, a satisfied Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, SET India says with a smile, “At Sony, now with Sunil and Tarun and the entire creative unit, we have a dream team in place. These guys are managing the system so well, I think I could retire.” On a more serious note he adds, "For these shows, we are expecting initial ratings at around 1.5 to 2 plus. Let's not forget the competition they will be facing."
As for the marketing of the new products, Sony has tried an interesting exercise with showing the dog in all the creatives of the promotion campaign of ‘Hum…’. Channel officials also explain that Ayushmaan’s promotional messages would be around the protagonist and the various facets around him, which convey the uniqueness of his story.