Zee looks to woo kids, males

NEW DELHI: Having consolidated its position a bit since last year after its ambitious programming strategy --- unveiled by former broadcast chief executive Sandeep Goyal in 2001-02 --- had gone phut, Zee TV is now concentrating on building on the gains through programming where the entry point will be kids and male members of the households.

More importantly, Zee TV has planned a roadmap where, through a new programming approach, the perception about the channel would be changed to that of `young and vibrant' instead of the image of a 35-year-old male that research indicates it has currently.

Having successfully managed to reduce its burgeoning programming budget to realistic levels, Zee TV feels that the programming strategy would be to unveil few new shows every quarter instead of unleashing on viewers a slew of programmes at one go.

"We have successfully won back the women viewers through some serials that are doing very well and the future plan is to have programming where kids and male members of the house will be entry points for viewing," Zee TV president Apruva Purohit told today.

According to the Purohit, the channel also plans to shed --- part of it has been already reduced --- the image it has been carrying. "We want this perception to change and make Zee TV have an image that should ideally be (for viewers of) between 25-30 years," she said, adding, "Some earlier startegies had failed, but the present one is showing results."

Dwelling on the image factor, Purohit said serials like Astitiva and Chausanth Panne will be important, but more hype would be created around properties like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa that will start a nationwide audition for new talents soon.

Though Purohit is loathe to quote TRP figures, some figures collated by show that housewives, both young and old, have driven Zee TV closer to the top slot following the successfull roll-out of series like Chausath Panne .

After the successful run of Thursday Premieres which showcased recent Bollywood releases, Zee TV's other property in the Top 100 list of programmes is Chausath Panne, which is a unique concept of a daily soap with a definite beginning and end, and has been well received in the Hindi belt. Places like Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh especially have shown a tremendous response to this new offering from the Zee stable.

According to TAM's weekly collation of GRPs (C&S Fem 25+ABC, North - West markets, including Madhya Pradesh) for the week ended 5 Apri, Zee TV's GRP stood at 199, compared to 184 of Sony. Of course, Star Plus is way ahead with a GRP of 857 for the same period and market.

But Zee TV needs to be careful as Sony may have fallen back on GRPs, but can always do a high jump back to the second spot.

Still, what is encouraging news for the team at Zee TV is that some 60 advertisers and big spenders who had deserted the channel in the wake of slipping TRPs and controversies regarding the parent company that had a rub-off effect, have been successfully wooed back.

"Some advertisers like Ujala that had stopped advertising on Zee TV came back after the success of the Thursday Premiers when Hindi blockbusters are aired. This is heartening as it shows that somewhere our strategy is making an impact," Purohit said.

Just like KBC and the subsequent programming strategy on Star Plus turned round the sagging fortunes of the whole Star Network, Zee TV hopes that Thursday Premiers would, to some extent at least, do the trick for the network.

"Though like KBC we cannot claim to have the daily viewer spillover effect, but the super-duper success of the Thursday Premiers has ensured that if we plan carefully the viewer can be wooed back," a gung-ho Purohit said, adding, the first runs of some of the Hindi films have ensured that a major portion of the investment made in acquisitions is recovered.

All this seems fine, but conditional access may just put paid to the plans of many a pay channel like Zee TV. "You never know, CAS may be actually a boon in disguise for us," Purohit quipped. While agreeing that in the short term viewership would certainly dip, because alternative entertainment choices were less in India, television would resurge even after the implementation of CAS and initial teething problems, she asserts.

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