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Mixed Media: Makeover mantra for Star Plus and Bloomberg UTV

08-June-2010
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Mixed Media: Makeover mantra for Star Plus and Bloomberg UTV

As you read this, both Star Plus and Bloomberg UTV are set to announce their makeovers. The circumstances in which both Star Plus and Bloomberg UTV have undertaken this exercise are different. The stakes are huge.

It’s been an excellent half-year at Star India from all counts. It has slogged its way up, as Colors slipped off the No 1 slot. The Viacom 18 channel has gone through a rough patch on the programming front and the mess-up with the Fear Factor with cricketers could set it back that wee bit more.

Bloomberg UTV may have scored high with the Budget this year, but it’s not easy going. The battle for supremacy in the business channel space is tough. CNBC-TV18 has an excellent mix of anchors and a clear favourite with the stocktrading fraternity. The continued leadership has also ensured that it’s much sought by corporate captains for interviews and scoops.

ET Now has attempted to get past, but it’s still very early days. Efforts to link presence in the newspaper with exclusivity on television haven’t gone too well with some czars, and the channel I guess would be hoping for some Times Now-like turnaround to happen.

For Bloomberg UTV to succeed, it will need to do a lot more than just cosmetic changes in the look-and-feel or spending dosh on distribution. A few hundred billboards can get you visibility, but for tangible results in a crowded space, differentiated content is the best and only weapon for sustained returns.

Take the case of Times Now: it adopted (and perfected) an in-your-face, aggressive personality that has seen it reaping rich dividends.

It’s a bold move for Star Plus to go in for a new look when the going’s just about been good, and it’s the clear leader once again in the weekly ratings roster. Though it paid the price last year for not seeing through viewer fatigue with its bestselling shows, under CEO Uday Shankar, the channel has taken some brave programming decisions. The recent announcement of all-new programming with Ekta Kapoor’s production company indicates that it’s fine with embracing a foe if that could help cement its place on the top. Like in politics and business, there is no permanent enemy in entertainment television.

I would love to see Bloomberg UTV give a tough fight to CNBC-TV18 on a week-on-week basis. It’s always good to have a good fight out there among key players. It keeps everyone on their toes and is eventually a win-win for all stakeholders. But while change is good, for it to be meaningful, huge investments aren’t enough. Buy-ins from even the juniormost employee are imperative. It’s got to be beyond the superficial. More than just new logos and colours.

(The views expressed here are personal. Post your comments below or email pradyumanm@exchange4media.com.)

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