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STAR, Sony prepare for D-Day, experiment with 'Kasautii…' and Ek 'Ladki…'

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STAR, Sony prepare for D-Day, experiment with 'Kasautii…' and Ek 'Ladki…'

'Don't let the audience move' – channels have always wanted that and these days they seem to be using a new mantra to try and attain it. What Zee TV did with 'Saat Phere' by showing only one ad in the launch episode, will now be seen in an advanced way, by both STAR Plus and Sony TV on November 21, 2005 – when Sony's new 'entertainment era' begins. Mass channels will sure see more than usual share of kicking this week.

Sony is set to launch 'Indian Idol' Season 2 in its 8.30 pm band today, pitting the new season of one of its greatest success against STAR's 'Kasautii Zindagi Kay', which for four years has been in STAR Plus' top three shows. Coincidentally, this is also the time when 'Kasautii…' is seeing some of its lowest numbers and as the channel's officials put it, 'is in a low phase'. However, STAR India is not taking any chances.

A change in Kasautii Zindagi Kay's story line has been planned, which would mean an expected peak in the show and hence the ratings. This has been used to launch a mass campaign around the show – last mass campaign of this nature that STAR did for its primetime shows was for 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki' when 'Ye Meri Life Hai' was launched on Sony in the same slot.

Throwing more light on the new campaign, Deepak Segal, EVP, Content and Communication, STAR India, remarked, "These are very long running shows and for a channel to keep the interest going isn't a simple task. We have to constantly try something new to keep the life in the show."

He further said, "What we have seen in our four years' experience is that every show goes through a cyclical phase. In the course of the formation of a peak in the show, a story gathers momentum and we see high numbers following which, there is a dip. 'Kasautii…' is in its low phase, but the story is set to see a change now, which will build audience interest. The mass campaign is to push this change."

In regards to November 21, the channel has planned complete 30-minute content for 'Kasautii…', which means that the show will run without any breaks. "We have always responded to changing environment. There are new launches planned and we will give our 100 per cent to ensure that our audience doesn't have reason to move to any other channel, which is why this experiment in the first episode."

Not to be left behind, Sony has planned something similar for its new show 'Ek Ladki Anjaani Si'. The first episode will be for 45 minutes with only one ad break. Expressing that the channel didn't need anything of the nature for 'Indian Idol 2', Tarun Katial, EVP and Business Head, Sony TV, said, "The marketing push around Indian Idol's second season is huge by itself. That is going to be the driver and the property has already formed its equity with the viewers. On the back of Idol, the other shows and related activities will be done."

Coming in the 9.30 pm slot, 'Ek Ladki…' will follow 'Indian Idol 2'. The buzz around 'Ek Ladki…' has been high, too, in terms of on-air and viral marketing, but not in the same lines as 'Indian Idol 2', which has also seen multiple media partners. Whereas on the one hand, the channel has print partners in Hindustan Times, Loksatta and all editions of Bhaskar Publication, Radio City is the radio partner, while Headlines Today and Aaj Tak are broadcast news partners. The channel has put Idol ads on other channels, too, like NDTV, Ten Sports, Cartoon Network, Disney channels, MTV and CVO.

"There has been enough push to 'Indian Idol 2' to ensure new audience in the show," expressed Katial, adding, "The idea is to retain this audience in the following shows. Also, the story is very gripping and the first episode really holds the key. A long single break episode really does justice to that."

Viewers sure have quite a lot to look forward to this week. Channel experts expect a mix of fragmentation and increase in audience base on mass channels with all the new shows. Said Segal, "There would be fragmentation definitely. Viewers have much to choose from and finally the iron filings will stick to the strongest magnet. We have to ensure that our shows have all the magnetic qualities to attract the audience."

Citing the example of the increase in audience on mass channels in the first season of 'Indian Idol', Katial doesn't rule out that possibility in this round too. In all, no one is laying a wager on what TRPs have to say a week later. But there is no denying that one of the fiercest battles on mass channels has begun and for all players, difficult and fun times lay ahead.


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