Star Plus set to overhaul 7-9 time band

MUMBAI: The leader is at it again. Star Plus, reigning deity of the couch potato, is sharpening its claws to build a fresh 'prime time', after having won over the dinner time band and the late night slot. The band under the channel's scanner now is the 7 to 9 pm band.

The channel remains cagey about revealing details of the proposed makeover of the band and Star India senior V-P content and communications Deepak Segal merely maintains, "The 7-9 slot is going to be a dynamic one."

Time to bid good-bye: Krishna Arjun

Reliable industry sources confirm that the channel is snapping off the lifeline for four of its shows in the near future, including the UTV produced kids' daily Shakalaka Boom Boom that runs Mondays to Thursdays at 7.30 pm, the weekly Contiloe production Krishna Arjun (Mondays 8 pm), the weekly Hats Off-UTV co-production Khichdi (Mondays 8 pm), and Taurus Films'Kyun Hota Hai Pyarrr (Thursdays 8 pms).

'We'll be back'- 'Khichdi' to make a comeback in newer "avtaar"

Although channel officials remain tightlipped about their plans for the 8-9 pm band, creative director Shailaja Kejriwal admits that Star Plus is shortly launching a new daily in the 8 pm slot -Dekho Magaar Pyar Se , a youth-centric love story. About the shows that would be taken off, Kejriwal acknowledges, "Krishna Arjun is going off air. It has completed its contract of 104 episodes - a culmination point pre-determined. There was no hope of extending Kyun Hota Hai Pyarrr much further, so even that will go off air. But we are retaining Sonpari. Although Khichdi will go off air, it will continue to remain in production and come back in a new avatar very soon."

Too old to love- 'Kyun Hota Hai Pyarrr'

Sources say Sonpari would be shifted to a weekend slot to build up the weekend programming, the Achilles Heel of every channel. As for the next big launch, "DMPS may go on air from September," offers Kejriwal. 

Segal says old Star Plus hand Shrey Guleri's Prime Channel will produce the show.

Assigned to regale the weekenders- 'Sonpari'

The script is Star Plus' idea. According to sources, the show will have a cast of newcomers whose names are being kept under wraps. All in all, DMPS it seems will take a leaf out of the success story called Kahiin To Hoga.

About 10 episodes have already been canned, shot in and around Mumbai. Gurudev Bhalla, who directed the box-office dud Shararat , will co-produce the show with Guleri.

Kiddie fare 'Shakalaka Boom Boom' to wind up

While UTV is non-committal about the actual story line, the production house has indeed been roped in to produce the next show for the spot left vacant by its kiddie fare Shakalaka Boom Boom. When quizzed, UTV director Zarina Mehta refused to divulge the story, but sources say it is a Mexican telly novella adaptation. Segal remains non committal, "I will neither deny nor confirm, but would be in a better position to talk about it later."

Where do you go, my lovelies? - 'Kasautii Zingagii Kay'

While it is unlikely that many tears will be shed on the shows that are on their way out, the same may not be the case with the Balaji Telefilms' produced Kasautii Zindagii Kay. While both the channel and the production house didn't seem quite keen on divulging details, the buzz is that the show is likely to see a change in its timings from its usual 8.30 pm Although the story line seems to have come to an impasse, sources say a revamp - a 20 year leap - is in store. This would be the second leap for the show.

What does the revamp bode in business terms? "Essentially the pre-dinner band (7-9 pm) is a band with a lot of potential. While Star Plus has already established its supremacy in the 9-11 slot, the pre-dinner band seems the ideal focus," offers Optimum Media Solutions executive vice president Amit Ray.

Interestingly, he has another proposition, "Unlike metros or cities, where viewing is predominantly after 9:30 pm, in small towns and up country, the viewing time starts right from 7 pm. With this move, Star Plus is now targeting the up country and the Hindi heartland viewers. They are looking at attracting a new set of eyeballs, building up their viewer base."

While Lodestar and Interface Media's national media director Nandini Dias opines, "Though the target group for 7-9 pm is similar to the target group of the channel, the advertisers are often most keen to be on the 9-11 pm band as that band has the highest TRPs. Any other band on Star Plus is a compromise."

"But as compared to the other general interest channels, the 8-9 pm band is also doing well," Dias insists. When quizzed about what the advertisers would be keen on, she says, "For a media buyer the ratings, the cost of those ratings and the involvement of the viewer in that programme matter the most. So any programming which fits these criteria is fine. Occasionally clients insist that their products should not be seen on some particular type of programming. For example, a food client may insist that the spots should not be telecast on a horror show."

According to Carat India general manager Pratibha (Pat) Vinayak, "The audience is essentially the same, probably just the younger lot. But the overhaul was long needed, to broadbase the viewer base."

Seconding Dias's views, Vinayak offers, "Essentially the evening time band comes in a package. As buyers, we tend to buy spots across the time band, but yes the 7-9 band hasn't been a homogenous band. I would say that had it not been for the package deal, the bands 7-8 and 8-9 have not been buyable."

The audience, according to her, would welcome a good mix of youth shows and family dramas. "While Star Plus already has established supremacy in 10-11 band and with 9-10 coming up equally strong, 8-9 seems to be the next band with a lot of potential," she says.

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