Thumbs up for new Zee FPC - opinion poll

MUMBAI: It's a gamble that could pay off. Just about. Results of the latest poll seeking viewer response to the proposed Zee plan to run serials Sunday to Wednesday have given a green signal to the channel, with 83 persons voting in favour.

Its not a cushy margin, though. 78 respondents averred that the plan may not be that great an idea. 14 respondents have admitted that they have no clue whether the novel strategy will work at all.

The results are a pointer to the uncertainty that shrouds Zee's latest programming strategy. The channel is treading uncharted territory, but not for the first time. It has done this once before, with disastrous results. That was in mid 2001, when newly appointed CEO Sandeep Goyal relaunched the channel with 24 new shows and a new channel mascot. The strategy flopped, but the poll results indicate that viewers are willing to give the beleaguered channel a second chance.

Zee now plans to air soaps and the like in the pre 9 pm slot for five days, beginning Sunday. The logic is that by Sunday evening, families anyways are in the week schedule mode as kids have to be prepared for school and adults have to ready for work the next day. Therefore the programming will also be tailored accordingly.

Zee's FPC is being built keeping in mind a very metro-centric audience. Love Marriage, Kittie Party and Lipstick all fall into that thinking. The strategy has obviously been to build a different programming from that available on other channels and not try to be a 'me too' channel. It is also aiming to wean away the Star and Sony soap regular viewer by dishing up a blockbuster movie on Thursday nights and wooing him to watch the new Zee soaps.

The moot point of whether a show commencing Sundays, traditionally a weak day in terms of viewership, will be able to command viewer interest will remain unanswered till Zee launches in its new avatar. Of course, with viewership already at a nadir, Zee doesn't have much to lose. From here on, it can either stay where it is or move in one direction. Upwards.

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