The latest TAM ratings are out. And the entire industry is agog about one revelation: not one of Zee TV's new shows figures on the Top 100 list. Old diehards such as Mehandi Tere Naam Ki (65), Amanat (74) and Koshish Ek Aasha (99) are Zee TV's candidates in The Top 100.

There is some sniggering about this amongst rival broadcasters and producers, who are saying we told you. The question is: why the excitement about this development or non-development?

No one at expected Zee TV's new shows to spring up in the Top 10, let alone the Top 100, overnight. And we don't think anyone at Zee TV expected it either. There are enough professionals within that organisation that understand the television business and the fact that programmes grow on audiences and audiences on programmes. A Kaun Banega Crorepati happens probably once in a lifetime. And expecting a repeat is like expecting sextuplets every time you go for delivery in the maternity home. is of the view that Zee TV's new shows should be given at least another six weeks to stabilise and generate the ratings (if the ratings systems are allowed to continue). (The channel's management has said the new shows will run their 13-26 episodic run).


We expect at least four of the new shows - we cannot predict which because all that depends on the marketing and promotion push that Messrs Goyal and Sinha give - to pop up in The Top 50 in the time frame predicted.

But for that to happen some course correction may be needed. According to, there appears to be a disconnect between the new Zee TV brand promise and the delivery that is being made in terms of new programmes.

(When Sony Entertainment Television was launched it had very clear communications, which it lived up to for quite some time. It was the innovator: it had a young feel, new programming genres, new initiatives, it had snazzy packaging, and it came as a breath of fresh air. Hence, it succeeded. As did Zee TV when it launched in the time of DD.


A year ago, Star Plus did to Zee TV and Sony what a Zee TV and Sony Entertainment did to DD and Zee TV respectively in their time. And the duo has not been able to find a counter to Star Plus. For the past year, both Zee TV and Sony have been strangely behaving like imitators; they appear to have stopped innovating.)

One school of thought in industry is that the communications around the Zee TV brand need to be improved; the programming is wow.

The other school of thought is that programming needs to be spruced up.

The school which believes that Zee TV's communication needs correction question its very basis.

What is the new Zee TV brand all about?

A lovely young lass - represents the new Zee TV brand. She is fresh as dew, she is pretty, she is vivacious, she is playful, she is charming, she is dimpled, she likes kids - one could go on.

But can she on her frail frame hoick Zee TV out of the rut it has been stuck in for some time now? Nahin dekha Zee to kya dekhenge nayee Zee TV ka message?

More push is needed for specific shows - more specifically large scale canvas dramas and soaps (for example, why is not Sudha Murthy's Dollar Bahu being promoted as a show based on a book written by India's most innovative software entrepreneur's wife. Or Aaj Bhi Ateeth, Hip, Hip Hooray Series 2) that live up to the promise made by the new Zee TV lass. Zee TV was known for well-told stories (at times long-winded ones though); for Antakshari, for Khana Khazana, original Indian programming. The new shows seem to have good stories and hence they hold promise.

One has not seen enough of the Zee TV game shows - Baazee Kiski or Niilaam Ghar - to give a verdict on whether they should be pushed.

The push has to be a determined one across media. A budget of Rs 10 crore (or is it Rs 15 crore?) has been set aside for this purpose. Let's see effective spending of that.

The second school of thought questions the basics of some of Zee TV's programmes. Do most Indians want to watch cross-continental shows? Or is it a microcosm that wants such programming? Will these shows work well with Zee TV's audiences in Europe and the US? They well may but production values have to be stepped up for those audiences. Additionally, will Indians in interior Maharashtra or Varanasi indentify with them? There is a big question mark there.

Most importantly, Zee TV has to spruce up on its programme packaging and promos. Today, channels have to have a great feel and look about them. Sony Entertainment, Star, HBO, ESPN and Star Sports, Channel 9 have spoilt Indian viewers over the past three or years with their international feel. A slick environment in which they watch their shows is something audiences are demanding as they are not buying just programmes; they are hooking on to the whole package.

Most of the promos look tacky; many shows have signatures that lack class and finesse; the shows themselves are running short on production values; technically, the audio and video standards are not up to the mark.

Star /Sony/Channel Nine treat every promo on their channels as an ad for the programme they are promoting; that effort seems to be lacking with Zee TV. A promo is a filler for its programming tem; very little creative input seems to be going into it. Today, television audiences have to be teased, lured and retained, continuously and consistently.

The Zee TV girl promo manages to do that. The hoardings featuring her are fab; but the same attention to detail has not been paid to the channel. An attempt has been made to come up with a new channel ID but it seems half-hearted. There is nothing memorable about the new logo and ID; they do not evoke emotions like the ones of HBO, Star Plus, Nine Gold or Sony. Go all the way Zee folks; retain the values of the logo but make it snazzy; even the BBC logo has evolved over the years.

If the values presented in Zee girl promo are taken as a standard and replicated across the channel, it could do wonders for it.

And a couple of months down the line, the past year may seem just a memory.




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