Balaji readies weekend serials

On the back of what has been a tremendously successful year for the Jeetendra Kapoor family-promoted Balaji Telefilms, the production house is expanding into new genres and time bands.

Among the more high-profile offerings that the Balaji stable is readying is a 39-part weekend series that is going on air within the next two months on "one of the top satellite channels," CEO and managing director Shobha Kapoor said today, at an analysts' meeting in south Mumbai outlining the company's plans.

Slated to run as a one-hour show on Friday's, Saturday's and Sunday's, Kapoor said it would be a high-cost production that would run for a total of 13 weeks. Another show that was launching in the weekend slot was a kid's serial that would air on Sundays loosely modelled on a Superman like character, Kapoor said.

Rajesh Pavithran, vice-president - marketing, who gave a run down of the company's plans said the company was increasingly focussed on increasing the number of commissioned programmes that it produced and was now restricting its programmes in the sponsored category to work it did for the southern language Sun Network.

Pavithran said that after making its presence felt in all the main southern language channels (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada), Balaji was next looking to enter Malayalam language programming on the Sun Network's Surya channel.

The coming year would also see Balaji entering Punjabi and Bengali language programming, Pavithran said.

A point that was made during the briefing was that Balaji's top three shows on Star Plus contributed 30 per cent of the company's revenues. Pavithran also stressed that there was a big enough spread in the company's programming base that no show contributed more than 15 per cent of revenues. One can assume that Hindi entertainment television's top soap Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (KSBKBT) would be contributing the 15 per cent. Jeetendra Kapoor said that KSBKBT's current sale price to Star was Rs 1,000,000 per episode. The numbers are revealing when one considers that when KSBKBT launched it was sold to Star at Rs 125,000 per episode. Average production cost per episode however, has only gone up 10 per cent, Jeetendra Kapoor said. Now that's called tight cost control.

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