Though STAR Plus seems to have emerged as an established leader in the Hindi mass entertainment section with most of its slots full, the channel has not yet stopped from adding new properties to its existing line-up. The leader is ready with seven new shows – one already on air and six to hit the tube soon. Even though the channel hasn’t announced the timings of the six yet, sources inform that some are planned for weekends, at least one for afternoon and some are left for weekday primetime.
What channel officials share is that all the launches are planned in a phased-out manner and will successively go on-air in October and November 2004. Deepak Segal, Senior VP, Content and Communications, STAR India, expresses, “It largely depends on what competition does. We have created the properties and everything is in place. Now, we will launch these shows depending on the new programmes that the competition brings on-air.”
As far as the nature of programming is concerned, the seven shows are a mix aimed at different categories of target group. One of the seven new shows, ‘Kal Chakra’ that marks the return of Nausheen Ali Sardar (ex-Kkusum), in a lead role, is a supernatural thriller. Channel officials explain that though the show targets the entire family, it is likely to attract the female audience more. The show is planned as a weekly to be slotted for a Friday show. Given the kind of target that Sony’s ‘Devi’ draws, bringing such a show on weekends might make sense for the group.
Another show in the pipeline is the re-launched version of ‘Khullja Sim Sim’. Channel officials share that due to ex-host Aman Verma’s current commitments (Verma is currently the host of Indian Idols), Hussain would be the next face of the show. “The show has always done well for us and in the new version, we have upgraded various aspects of the show – from the look and feel to even how we go about it. We expect it to deliver even better,” remarks Segal. The tentative placement of the show is for Fridays.
One of the forthcoming properties is a mythological show, called ‘Saarrthi’. The channel has managed to create a fusion of mythology with modern-day characters. Again, with a skew towards the female target, this show is slotted for weekday afternoons. The other three to hit the tube soon would be ‘Milli’, ‘Hello Dollie’, which is planned as a 7.30 pm daily, and Balaji’s ‘Kul’, which goes on air only on January, 2005. The first two are directed more towards the youth with a young and peppy feel in it.
However, timings for none of the shows have been decided yet. According to sources in the channel, ‘Milli’ would replace one of the present 9 pm shows on the channel. The channel is contemplating on change in most of its 9 pm weeklies. However, Balaji’s Kul is designed as a daily. Whether the channel would further extend its primetime or replace any of the current shows to accommodate this one is yet to be seen.
One of the new shows already on air is ‘K-Street Pali Hill’ – coming at the 11.30 pm slot. Channel officials say that the show is for night viewers. Segal shares, “This show has a male skew to it and we believe that apart from bringing back the ‘Kahiin Kissi Roz’ viewer, the show will rope in more viewers as well.”
If one is wondering what happened to the UTV-produced comedy ‘Shanno Ki Shaadi’ that the channel announced earlier in the year, sources inform that the show has been scrapped. The new shows and the constant peaks planned on the existing ones ensure that the channel is not leaving any stone unturned to ensure that it maintains the leadership position. With the new STAR Plus programmes, the new programming initiatives on Zee TV and Sony’s ‘Indian Idols’ to be on the television soon, Indian viewer sure have a lot to choose from.