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.
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