Sony's revamped crime buster garners better rating

MUMBAI: Crime doesn't pay, but a dramatised version sure does. The weekly crime buster on Sony Crime Patrol , which aired every Friday at 10:30 pm, started off as a reality show that showed the crime as it happened. Almost nine months later the channel decided to yank off the old format and incorporate the new. And has the trick paid off.The show, which didn't make it any where near top 100 even during its inaugural episode, suddenly found itself at the 62 position on the TRP charts in C&S 4+ age group homes for week 10 (29/02/04 to 06/03/04) after the revamp.

Touted to be the Indian version of the much popular Police Videos, Crime Patrol was unlike any other Sony fare. It dealt with reality. Though it was featured on a general entertainment channel, Sony hoped that it would attract the elusive male 25+ eyeballs. But the 'niche programme' didn't quite do that. Also it didn't help that the experimental programme had been logistically a taxing fare. The half an hour show, which included wild chases and life and death encounters, investigate a minimum of two to three cases ranging from petty crimes to serious felonies. Unlike the reworked show, the original had cameras witnessing unraveling of a crime or incident or the apprehending of the defaulter by the police.

"There was only so much that we could do with the earlier format. It was a path braking formula no doubt and we had full support of the authorities including the police but it didn't quite touch the emotional cord," offers Sony executive vice president - programming and response Tarun Katial. Seconding his view, the production house Cinevistaas' creative director Nikhat Bhatty added, "Although there was a chunk of audience for the earlier format, it was much too niche. By dramatising the show we have tried to reach a larger audience and I guess it has worked."

Besides the change in format, the show also sports a new face that of the anchor Shakti Anand. "Shakti comes across as a motivating figure, someone who audience can relate to; especially since we hope that Crime Patrol becomes a platform to fight crime," offers Katial.

"Since we were revamping the show, we wanted the audience to tune in and look at it as a new show. Plus with the former anchor Diwakar Pundir's 52-episode contract coming to an end, we thought it would be helpful to rope in a new face," adds Bhatty.

Comprising three segments: feature on criminal on run, feature on a crime solved and a segment on public service, where a celebrity comes every week to talk about his/her method to counter crime, the show now sports 'Jurm ko aapka mooh tod jawaab' (your fight against crime). Both Katial and Bhatty agree that the audience involvement has been an important factor in popularity of the show. It not only does touch the chord, but it also encourages the viewer to fight the crime. Though there haven't been any helpful leads provided by the audience thus far, Bhatty insists that this is to change soon.

Also what helped the TRP push majorly were the vigourous promotional activities. The channel has been pushing its Friday block with vigour. The ratings all C&S 4+ homes excluding South for the week 10 showed that the revamped Friday line-up did well with Devi averaging a rating of 5.4, CID got 5.1 and Crime Patrol climbed further to a rating of 4.5. For a previous week, Devi got 4.5, CID got 4.3, while Crime Patrol got 3.5.

Beside that the channel also has been actively promoting the Friday lineup on the radio.

With a good track record of the channel with dramatised crime related shows like Bhanwar, lets hope that Crime Patrol continues to prove its mettle.

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