In last few weeks, entertainment channel Zee TV has taken some bold decisions. Taking conventional wisdom head on, it is scheduling serials from Sunday to Thursday, instead of Monday to Friday. And it will be airing newly screened Hindi movies on Thusday, instead of weekend. Will it work?
Explains Apoorva Purohit, President, Zee TV, "Starting June, we have strengthened our prime time, and converted everything to dailies. Today, you need a consumer to get addicted to your programme. Our analysis of viewership data shows that the absolute universe of audience available on a Sunday is as large and as substantial as on any other week day."
However Samir Nair, COO, Star India does not agree that Sunday viewership is as large as the weekdays. Says he, "By starting their daily soaps on Sundays, it remains to be seen if Zee gets the opening night viewership to then keep audiences hooked for the remaining 3 days. Sundays are usually low viewership nights, not the best night to start a daily soap".
Sunil Lulla, Executive V P, Sony TV believes it is early to talk about the results, "Its important to innovate and experiment in this business, and Zee is doing that - what would be the outcome, we will have to wait and watch."
Along with the changes in schedules, is a subtle change in programming strategy. It is attempting to lure different target groups through different genre of programmes. Lipstick and Kitty Party are hardly of the same genre as Amanat. According to Purohit, this is a result of research conducted among women in the months of March, April and May. Says Purohit, "The research gave us some clear insights. For instance, we discovered that with joint families breaking down kitty parties have become unconventional support groups for women. We also found that love marriage as a concept intrigues younger women greatly." Hence the channel launched the two programmes keeping in mind the two interest groups.
However, media experts are not so sure that it would be easy to get enough numbers for such focused programmes. Says Partha Ghosh, of Lowe Lintas, "Breaking a viewer's viewing pattern is very difficult. Such programming would have made lot more sense if there were multiple TV sets." Will such programming lend itself to brand associations? Says Jasmine Sorabji, V P, Mediacom, "May be if I am looking for sponsorship, I would look at the synergy in the programme and the brand, it still has to provide me numbers. As far as advertising is concerned, the deciding factor would be CPRPs."
A recent exchange4media analysis pointed that the new programming is yet to do pick up on TVR charts.
How is competition reacting? At the moment both Star and Sony feel no need to react. Says Lulla, "We have been focusing on weekend programming for quite sometime now. Our weekend programmes are doing very well. Besides, we don't believe in reactive programming."
Nair too is confident that recent moves need no reactions. Says he, "Star's weekend progamming has been expanding since July. Recently we successfully launched our Sunday morning religious band, which now leads the ratings across all channels. On Saturday and Sunday evenings, we telecast hits movies and events, which also lead in viewership."
But with viewers keen to look beyond the staple K soaps, Zee's new programming strategy will need both time and push. Zee will keep its fingers crossed and will hope to get lucky, this time.