Pre-9, Zee dailies to run five days

MUMBAI: In what it has called a "revolutionary" programming strategy, Zee TV today announced changes in the schedules of its serials and the 3 oclock afternoon movie band.

Starting 13 June, all dailies between 1:30 pm and 9:00 pm will be aired from Monday to Friday instead of the earlier Monday to Thursday schedule.

Besides the daily afternoon movies, some of the serials that will fall under this initiative at prime time (7:30 pm - 9 pm) are the popular Sinndoor Tere Naam Ka, Tumhari Disha and the recently launched, Sarrkkar Rishton Ki Ankahi Kahani. The afternoon band will have Koi Apna Sa, Paalkhi, Piya Ka Ghar and Reth.

"The decision to extend the serials across a five day week was taken based on popular viewer feedback. We are optimistic that this revolutionary move will help us consolidate and strengthen our current position," says Zee TV president Abhijit Saxena.

Television industry analysts, however, opine that the move has got to do with more than just viewer feedback. "This is a clear strategy of disruptive programming from Zee TV. They are trying to get aggressive on the Friday time band in which competitors Star Plus and Sony mostly air re-runs and non-soap programmes. Zee will definitely have a beginner's advantage here," says an industry source.

In the 1:30 pm to 3 pm band, Star Plus airs shows Tu Tu Main Main, which is a repeat, music show Chalti Ka Naam Antakshiri and soap Saarrthi. Sony, which had been banking on movies in Friday afternoons, has now turned to events.

This is where Zee's new move attains significance. Zee aims to boost its afternoon band with a new soap Paalkhi in the 1:30 pm slot, replacing the Tumhari Disha repeat. So the channel will have fresh programming from 1 pm - 2 pm. The channel airs Koi Apna Sa in the 1 pm slot.

"By offering soaps, among which two are fresh shows, Zee must be trying to cash-in on the liveliness factor in the 1:30 - 3 pm band. Since they have got a strong movie library, they have faith in the 3 pm movie band as well. So the new effort is to extend these strong points to an extra day," the source says.

Now, speaking about the 7:30 - 9 pm band, Zee TV has already strengthened its 7:30 pm slot with Sinndoor. In April, the channel launched Sarrkkar in the 8:30 pm slot. Tumhari Disha is currently the second best property in the Zee line up, behind Sindoor. Overall, the channel now looks pretty comfortable in this time band. At the same time, the major properties of Star and Sony (Star Plus' blockbuster soap show Kasauti Zindagi Kay being an exception) begins post 9 pm. So here also, by extending the schedule to Friday, Zee's attempt is to strengthen its position in a time band where it already has got a foothold.

So, while the rival networks have been gearing up to have a good look at the new four shows Zee had announced last week, the channel has sprung a surprise. Now, it remains to be seen whether this bold new strategy will trigger a turn-around for the channel.

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