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Sony gets aggressive on its programming

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Sony gets aggressive on its programming

Sony Entertainment television has decided to end the year in style, or as Sunil Lulla, Executive Vice President, SET India puts is, "You can also say that we are planning to welcome the new-year with a bang".

It is planning three evenings of music and masti. Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam, as reported earlier, is going to be a part of this New Year extravaganza. In addition it, channel would present two evenings of dance and music, says Lulla, "These are in event format and contain songs, dances, interviews - a lot of stars - they are variety programmes."

Channel right now can do with some great channel drivers, which would lead to people sampling a slew of new programmes it has launched in the recent past.

If we look at TRPs for the last one-month, i.e. October 15th to November 15th, there is a single daily programme on Sony Entertainment Television that has crossed the mark of 5 week after week - Kkussum. The other two shows to cross that threshold on a regular basis are CID and Heena. Devi and Kutumb, in most cases, hover close to 3 and most others have ratings between 1 and 2. This, of course, excludes Lagan, which had high ratings of 10+.

Did this trend trigger off Sony buying telecast rights for a number of recent Bollywood movies? The channel, obviously, would not want to leave any stone unturned to keep ahead of ZEE with a comfortable margin in the race. However, Lulla, Executive Vice President, SET India, does not agree that acquisition of quite a few movies is a major strategic exercise. Says he, "We have always been acquiring movies for our library on a consistent basis. We have a well-developed catalogue comprising of movies from most prestigious banners - be it Subhash Ghai or Yash Chopra or any other…Only difference is that we announced it this time as there were so many speculations going on about Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam."

As reported earlier, the channel, according to grapevine, has paid to the tune of Rs 6 crore for K3G, and even higher for Lagan. Does it not make the battle a little too expensive, what with Sahara also joining the movie acquiring gang? Lulla, though refuses to divulge the actual acquisition cost, does state, "The cost of investment in television programming does go up in terms of acquisition. Having said that, we also see that every point in time it happens - there is also a plateauing out, and only people with serious strategic intent say - and we have had that for more than seven years". He believes that movies do make a perfect business sense for the channel as, "They not only bring in revenue, but also bring in new viewers and provide great sampling opportunities. There is a definite potential to convert some of these audiences to other products that we have. They add certain strategic value - and then there are repeat runs. They are also shared within the network".

However, the channel has no plans to show movies on weekdays, as it believes that 'it, then, becomes very title driven and breaks the format of the week'. Lulla explains, "By and large, weekend programming is lighter form of entertainment, and there is fair amount of disruption in routine at home. Hence, forced appointment viewing, usually episodic in nature, that happens from Monday to Thursday is not necessarily a good option on weekends"

Movies is not the only thing the channel is looking at, it has also spruced up its weekday programming and introduced quite a few new programmes in different genres - most of them in 8-9 slot. Three of it recently launched programmes are comedies - Meri Biwi Wonderful, Kabhi Biwi Kabhi Jasoos, and Papa Ban Gaye Hero, which is a light family drama. "It is better to give viewers a few laughs after a long tiring day, before they settle in to watch some serious television", is what Lulla has to say.

The change in programming is already showing results in marginal increase in TRPs. Says a an optimistic Lulla, "We did not have any strong programmes from 8 pm to 9 pm - now that we have them viewership is bound to come."

(TRPs calculated on C&S, 15+, Hindi-speaking market)


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