Astitva’s Dr Simran in ‘Reth’, ‘CID’ squad helping ‘Kkusum’ on Sony or ‘Kahiin To Hoga’s Sujal and Kashish attending the ‘K-Street Pali Hill’ gang’s party on STAR Plus – mass channels are using character crossover increasingly these days to keep their viewers hooked. Even though the objective is the same, the rationales for the players are different.
For Sony Entertainment Television, it evidently means attracting newer audience as well. The channel’s EVP and Business Head Tarun Katial says, “It raises the curiosity level. The audience that comes in is unduplicated between the two shows and hence increases sampling.” For him the show where the characters are taken in gains as the newer audience comes to this show.
While this is one way of utilising character crossover, STAR Plus’ Creative Director, Shailja Kejriwal, says the other ways of crossover where shows are merged allow both shows to gain. The channel used the strategy earlier as well when ‘Kasautii…’ and ‘Des…’ were integrated for a 90-minute episode. Kejriwal says, “It is a treat for the viewers and has worked very well. That show gave us an average rating of over 14. You take the equity of one show to the other. In the case of Kashish and Sujal on K-Street, the show’s rating crossed a 7 plus and that is big for the late night time.”
Another aspect where it helps the channels is giving more life to their characters. Seeing them in different situations makes the characters real, which allows the audience to identify with these characters better. Zee TV’s Programming Head Ashwini Yardi believes that it clicks better with the audience, giving them the much needed break from routine. She says, “Apart from promoting new shows, character crossover can be used as per story requirements as well. Like Jia needed a doctor in ‘Reth’ and Dr Simran has become a household name, it makes sense to bring Dr Simran on Reth.”
For the STAR shows, there seems to be a rating spike as well, which isn’t the case with the recent crossover seen in ‘Kkusum’. Even though the result is not seen in ratings, the technique does allow programmers some more ground to play on. “The attempt paved the way for a twist in Kkusum,” informs Katial.
The strategy does seem like a boost for the show but it comes with its problems as well, at least as far as producing the episode is concerned. “It is definitely tough. Get them all together itself is a tough thing to do with dates issue etc,” says Kejriwal, “but we have managed to do a pretty job of it, needless to say with adequate advanced planning.”
More crossovers are already in the pipelines for the Indian audience in days to come. Yardi shares that Zee’s ‘Kareena’ would soon be seen in ‘Khana Khazana’ to learn how to cook from master chef Sanjeev Kapoor. The channel has made this interactive with a contest woven in the plot. STAR is already planning on some interesting thoughts that would be seen some time around May 2005, adds Kejriwal.