Not lights, not camera, but ACTION is definitely the new buzzword on the
programming circuit for English general entertainment channels in India. The
forte holder, comedy, is giving way to action for a mixed bag of programming
on offing to the viewers.
Says Abhijit Saxena, Senior Vice President, International Business, Zee
Network, "Action is a genre where visual entertainment is created. We have
studied the market, and also research has shown us that Indians are more bent
towards action and reality programmes. Apart from comedy, which is our
strong point, we have reworked our content to provide a mixed bag in order
to garner a greater mass appeal."
Witchblade is their latest offering in the action sphere. Zee had a daily
strip of comedy shows during its prime time belt. Action series hogs the
prime time followed by Drama and a dash of comedy.
Speaking on the viewers' appetite for action backed programming, Deepak Segal, Senior Vice President, Programming, STAR India says, "Action features
predominantly among the top-programs in the English general entertainment
genre with a 30 per cent presence in the top 50 programmes over the last 4
weeks. 25 per cent of our current programming mix falls in the category of
Action/Thriller. Our action shows which have featured in the top 50 in the
last 4 weeks include Law & Order Special Victims Unit, Zoe Busiek - Wild
Card and Third Watch."
"Initially we had 70 per cent of the content devoted to comedy. The new
programming mix for Zee English will include 60 per cent of action, 25 per
cent comedy and the rest for the drama genre," said Lina Joshi, Manager,
Programming, Zee English & Zee MGM.
"Zee is showing some of the top rated award winning serials from the US such as La Femme Nikita, Black Scorpion to name a few. Mr. and Mrs. Smith is
being telecasted for the last 2 to 3 months and is doing quite well. Zee
English will be coming out with two new programmes every month and we will
share the content details at the right time," she added.
New action series in the forthcoming line up from Star World includes a new serial titled Thunderdome, the tenth series of NYPD Blue, fourth series of
Angel, seventh series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, sixth series of Nash
Bridges, eighth series of JAG and the third series of Mutant X.
So how does the house of action consider the new focus on its crunch area. Says Rohit Bhandari Vice President, AXN, "AXN delivers powerhouse
performances to its viewers. We have acquired the best properties from the
US as we make it a point to satisfy them (our viewers) with quality
programming. Having been present in the market for years, the television
ratings speak for us.
Our size is many times that of the current crop of English general
entertainment channels and we do not consider them in the threat area to make
any changes in our programming strategy. Schedule changes and innovations
keep happening, but that is to satisfy the needs of the viewers and has not
related in any way to competition."
Action is being offered as bait to pull in the cash cow by the English
general entertainment channels. Whether the cow falls for it or chooses
greener pastures is something we will have to wait and watch.