Is crime genre the fuel running Sony?

MUMBAI: Once upon a time, it ruled the roost but a look at recent TAM ratings tells another story. Why is it that a pioneer like Sony is currently languishing among the bottom three GECs? According to media experts, the answer lies in the kind of content the channel is airing.

A majority of them feel fiction is critical to a GEC, which is exactly what Sony lacks. "Without focusing on any fiction-based shows, a GEC cannot survive. In other words, daily soap operas are the bread and butter for a GEC," says a producer who didn't wish to be named.

Yes, Sony had hit shows like Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin and Boogie Woogie (reality) but that's in the past. Over the last couple of years, the channel has failed to gain traction as far as fiction is concerned.

Many may counter this saying Sony has two shows which can beat fiction-based ones by a huge margin: Crime Patrol and CID. The duo is among the channel's longest running shows. To give statistics, CID garnered 7,048 TVTs in week 40 of TAM TV ratings while Crime Petrol registered 3,882 TVTs.

Says BPN (Brand Programming Network) CEO Suresh Balakrishna: "CID and Crime Petrol have been airing for years and it won't be wrong to say that the shows own this genre. A viewer expects to see crime shows on Sony, they have owned that genre and nobody has got into the genre the way the channel has."

Some experts agree that the way Star Plus is known for its fictional shows and Colors for its reality shows, viewers tend to expect crime from Sony. Others feel to focus on one particular genre, say crime, can definitely give the channel the required padding but GECs' bread and butter is fiction shows.

"I think the biggest problem that Sony is facing is to do with its image. It has never had fiction which has done well whereas non-fiction has worked brilliantly for the channel. Ideally, they should go back to the old model of non-fiction," suggests a city-based media planner, adding: "It is not suffering as far as distribution is concerned or marketing is. The problem lies in the content. If it changes the content mix, the channel will definitely be able to garner better GVTs. But of course, that would mean investing a lot of time, ideas and energy. But if they invest, then it may work out."

Focusing on the content, planners state the example of Channel V which changed its strategy from being music to a fiction. Correspondingly, Sab TV till six years back had a mix bag of shows whereas now it is known for its comedy shows.

However, a soap opera director begs to differ: "Sony has done lot of experiments. And I am getting a positive feeling for Desh ki Beti?Nandini and I think it will be able to click with the audience." Yet, he is quick to point out that the channel hasn't done anything like Jassi in a long time and even Bade Achche Lagte Hai isn't working anymore.

Says Sunshine Productions' Sudhir Sharma: "Sony is known for semi-urban sensibilities shows such as Jassi and Bade Achche Lage Hai and in this space, the channel must explore. It will be good for them."

The channel is betting big on the recently launched Kaun Banega Crorepati 7 but TAM ratings haven't been too encouraging. Whether Sony should get its act together on fiction shows or continue to concentrate on non-fiction (crime) is something the channel will have to work out.

In the meantime, the recent revamp and maybe Boogie Woogie, which is returning to the channel after a decade-long gap, may just help Sony get its groove back...

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