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The ‘Oh God, It’s Friday Night!’ syndrome in mass channels

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The ‘Oh God, It’s Friday Night!’ syndrome in mass channels

From the introduction of ‘Fantastic Friday’ on STAR One to the resurrection of Sony’s property, ‘Shukra Hai Shukravaar Hai’, Fridays are becoming the new battleground for channels – or as channel officials put it, the starting point to building other blocks on the channel. What is so hot about this at times weekday, at times weekend block?

The answer in one simple sentence – the fact that this is one block where old hands like Sony and newcomers like STAR One have tasted success. The reasons could be anything from not much available on other channels to people spending more time in front of the idiot box on the day – no one is willing to take a guess on that. The only point media experts reiterate is that this is one block where multiple players have tasted success.

STAR One announced its Friday initiative in the first week of February this year, which entailed a phased launch of four new shows – the last one to hit the tube from this line-up is ‘Jet Set Go’, which comes in the 8.00 pm block on March 10, 2006. The exact date as Sony ‘Shukra Hai…’ franchise hits the screens. For STAR One, Friday could be just any other day, the driving factor for the launch of a block came from the fact that the block housed a successful property.

“It could have had been a Tuesday,” said Shailja Kejriwal, Senior Creative Director, STAR India. “For us, the reason is very simple. ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’, had done very well in its first season and the second season was scheduled to release. In the first season, it was on Fridays and we wanted to bring it back on the familiar time band, using that to launch other shows around it. As I said, it just could have had been a Tuesday,” she maintained.

For Kejriwal, any channel was built by building blocks. The exact sentiment of Anupama Mandloi, Senior VP, On-Air Programming, Sony. “You have to start from somewhere. We have embarked on a completely new programming strategy, which continues to follow the basic principle of giving the audience innovative alternative content, but in a completely new style and freshness. We have to begin somewhere and the fact that traditionally Sony has been strong on Fridays made sense for us to begin from a slot we are in any case strong in,” she said.

Kejriwal further explained, “I agree that Fridays alone cannot help built a channel, but this is a great starting point and you can move on day by day from there. Nobody is here to build a channel overnight. Even if you go slow, you want to be strong in whatever it is that you are doing and the success should have longevity and, more importantly, breed more success.”

Pretty much what Sony is also going after. To accompany the new line-up, Sony Entertainment has planned a series of marketing activities, which, according to Nina Jaipuria, Senior VP, Marketing, would be done in two folds. The first is to promote the Friday block itself and the second to promote the two new shows that would be debuting on March 10, 2006 – ‘Fear Factor’ and ‘Kandy Floss’. Jaipuria said, “The whole idea is to make noise that Fridays on Sony are rocking and that there is thrill, gossip and much more fun.”

But that is exactly what other channels are also offering. How is SET ensuring that it is reaching the audience’s ear in all this clutter? “To my mind, Sony viewers know that we are a channel that offers alternative content. Even if they come for a soap, it is completely different from anything that the competition has to offer, and this is a difference that only SET can deliver, however hard the rest may try. We came with non-fiction and everyone followed, making us the trendsetter. I guess the secret now lies in finding a new trend. In that light, the role of marketing is more focused in bringing new eyeballs,” replied Jaipuria.

She explained that the Friday block would make the relevant noise around ‘Deal Ya No Deal’ and ‘CID’. “These are shows audience are already familiar with and nothing dedicated to them needs to be done. All our efforts in that direction will be concentrated on ‘Fear Factor’ and ‘Kandy Floss’,” she added.

For ‘Fear Factor’, in addition to innovative hoarding, on ground mobile activities are also planned for Mumbai and Delhi. Even mass mediums like radio have been designed to attract attention for this show. “Similarly for ‘Kandy Floss’, the show easily lends itself to a viral campaign – there is enough of interactivity in that and we would be using our digital base 2525 to make more noise around the show.”


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