Priority is to jumpstart business & recruit advertisers: Manisha Sharma, Viacom18
Sharma, the Chief Content Officer of Viacom18, tells e4m about resuming production after lockdown and wooing audiences back with fresh content lineup for Colors
After a long hiatus of almost four months, Viacom18’s Hindi general entertainment channel, Colors has announced the launch of its first new show after the lockdown. Colors is among the first broadcasters to start fresh programming along with new shows starting from 13 July at 7 pm time band.
Shooting after almost four months during a pandemic is not an easy task. While there is some apprehension, the crew is to be back on the set and gearing up to get the audience back on TV.
In a chat with exchange4media, Manisha Sharma, Chief Content Officer, Hindi Mass Entertainment, Viacom18, expressed how the team is upbeat about resuming production months after the lockdown.
“We at Viacom18 have been relentlessly working for the last three months to restart the business, reviewing scripts and planning highpoints. While the current environment is partially favourable, we are looking at the positive side and being less critical. Now that we are back on the field, the team is enjoying creating great storylines while being extremely careful and taking all necessary precautions to avoid risks. The safety procedures are elaborate but we have factored in the lag and production pace before putting fresh episodes on air.”
Sharma said that as they resumed, everyone is delighted and there is a surge in energy. However, the timelines are changed due to the pandemic.
“We have created a pressure-free working environment for our producers, writers and actors so that we meet our deadlines in the stipulated time without overshooting. We are making sure that the stress is reduced but the content is not compromised. Earlier we had the liberty of shooting episodes on the day of the telecast but in the current scenario, it’s not a viable option. We have to work with limited man force and ensure maximum output.”
While sharing the experience of shooting a fiction and non- fiction show during a pandemic, Sharma believes that shooting for a non-fiction show is a lot easier. She shared, “For instance, for non-fiction shows, we know the exact number of episodes, the start date and the end date, and that a designated number of people are required on the sets. It becomes a lot easier to shoot in a controlled environment vis a vis fiction shows wherein the combination of people coming on the sets depends upon the demands of the script.”
The network is planning to bring back not only its popular shows in not only the fiction space but also the non-fiction domain. Sharma informed that while Khatron Ke Khiladi is already on air, the network is also gearing up for the new season of Bigg Boss.
Speaking about fiction, she said, “We are launching a new show Ishq Me Marjawaan on 13 July at 7 pm. The conversations for a few more shows are also underway as we move forward.”
She explained that for three months, there were no new shows on television. In the absence of new content, the channel has seen a shift in the viewers’ content consumption habits. “Unlike earlier, it is difficult to create a demarcation of primetime or non-primetime slots, or a weekday or weekend slot. As we now move to fresh programming, there is a need to press the reset button for the viewers to move them back to their original habit of appointment viewing.”
She mentioned that right now, the channel is not looking at exploring/ opening up a new slot as the current focus area is to bring back the audience on TV.
“Right now, looking at the economics, our priority is to jumpstart the business and recruit advertisers for revenues. We want the viewers to get accustomed to the current programming before we take a plunge.”
She pointed out that gaining viewership back is Colors' priority at the moment. So from a content perspective, the team has already focused its attention on a slew of key shows like Barrister Babu, Choti Sarrdaarni, and Natti Pinky.
"We are trying to get our old viewers along with additional viewers back on the channel. Therefore, for the next few months, the focus is going to be on our key shows and characters. Once the viewership and revenues stabilize, we will plan on bringing a few more new shows," she added.
In terms of marketing, the channel keeping its characters at the centre devised all its programming and marketing communication.
Creating Kahani Ab Tak capsules that take the audience through their favourite characters’ journey so far has helped the channel to familiarize the audience with the show once again. Additionally, along with the marketing surround sound, the channel is banking largely on the highpoints and various other storyline hooks to keep the viewers intrigued.
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