After Star Plus and Star Gold, it is Star One’s turn to don a new avatar soon. And it appears that the Indian broadcasting and media industry is eagerly looking forward to what STAR India has in mind for its second Hindi general entertainment channel. After all, STAR India reclaimed its dominant position in television some time ago, and has maintained that lead. And if Star One starts delivering, the channel can take STAR’s overall might into a very-tough-to-challenge position. The implications not only on entertainment television but on the television business itself would be interesting.
While many just seem interested in seeing whether STAR can be successful in rebranding/re-launching a third time as well, but the big question would remain around the positioning of STAR One or should we say STAR Desh, the working title of the new STAR One. STAR, may we add, is not talking on the subject at all. Different kinds of names are floating for now but there are no official comments forthcoming, so let me not mention the likely name here. I guess I am also biased because of a very Shakespeare like comment from a senior STAR official who said, what is in the name, it is the programming that matters. Agreed. Viewers would not be tuning in the channel for its name, programming will have to deliver.
To Rebrand and to Relaunch
Star Plus, despite all descriptions at the time, was essentially rebranded. The channel donned a new look that reflected its content philosophy, which had evolved over time. It was a super attempt from STAR to say that people also watch channels, and not just shows.
Star Gold on the other hand was a re-launch. The channel had not only moved away from its look, feel and brand positioning but also the packaging of the channel by undertaking bold steps such as cutting ad time, the kind of titles and above all, STAR’s decision to premier big ticket movies on the channel, gave viewers a new Star Gold – the only thing that did not change was the name.
But in the case of Star One, the learning of both Star Plus and Star Gold would be coming in play. It appears that STAR India has lined up the whole nine yards for Star Desh. Not only is the channel being rechristened but the entire content line up is overhauled. Star One is wrapping all its current shows for this.
The rebranding of the channel has been underway for months now. Industry sources informed that STAR would be taking some format shows including the likes of ‘Survivor’ and ‘Sach ka Saamna’ to the new channel with an expected dose of dramas and serials. All this is well. But the big question, which is on the positioning of the channel, remains.
The Differentiating Factor
Can a network maintain two general entertainment channels? One comparable example is Multi Screen Media with Sony and SAB. The reason SAB started delivering was when the channel once again took the position of a comedy channel, and managed to get content that delivered successfully on that positioning. And MSM is clear on the differentiation between the two channels – a show from SAB could go on Sony, but not all shows from Sony could go on SAB. SAB has its own unique demand, and hence unique offering.
The challenge to run two general entertainment channels otherwise without any differentiation with each other would be to get nine hours of original, similar-veined, programming every day, instead of the current four and a half that go in evening primetime. And the Network will have to hope that the nine hours are strong and are scheduled in a manner that is complementary than competitive.
When STAR makes the big announcement, this would be the only aspect I would be looking forward to know more on – the thought process that will help STAR One come out of its second GEC trap and become a second reach entertainment channel for the Network.
STAR made a significant move when the company hired Ajit Thakur, former Sony Entertainment Television’s Business Head, to lead the re-launch of STAR One but it is STAR India’s CEO Uday Shankar involvement that makes the wait for the new channel worthwhile. Time and again, Shankar has exhibited an uncanny knack of comprehending the Indian viewer and setting the entertainment agenda – can he do it with STAR One as well? As I said, a very worthy wait-and-watch.