SET repositions Sab as general entertainment channel targeting Hindi heartland

MUMBAI: Sony Entertainment Television (SET) is looking at re-positioning the "only smiles no tears" comedy channel Sab TV as a "light" general entertainment channel (GEC) targeting the Hindi heartland.

Effective 7 November, a new logo and shows, on-air look and graphics will mark the re-launch of Sab. SET has decided to drop the tagline of the channel (Only smiles no tears) for the time being and will be looking at a fresh tagline in the near future.

"We wanted to make Sab a channel that would compliment the current network offering. Our aim was to broaden the audience base as the channel currently caters to a select set of people. Sab had a strong equity in the comedy space and is a good proposition; all it needed was a clear direction and money because it was bleeding," says SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta.

SET acquired Sab TV in April this year and the clear mandate before re-launching the channel was to strengthen its distribution. "When we acquired Sab, it had a reach of 14 per cent. We had set a target to increase that to 30 per cent before re-launching the channel (which has been encrypted and made a pay channel on the One Alliance bouquet). As of last week, the channel's reach was 28 per cent, which was very close to our target," says SET India chief operating officer N P Singh.

"With Sab, we are looking at increasing the overall SET Network share in the Hindi entertainment space," said Dasgupta. Sony has set some ambitious targets for the channel going forward. Dasgupta says the aim is to make it one of the top three GECs in the country.

From here on, the network has defined a clear programming and communications strategy. The target audience will be SEC B, C, D male skewed in the 25-45 age group. "We will be targeting the heartland. The channel will be relevant to ordinary people, the shows will be optimistic in nature and be a source of refreshment for people. Even after the re-launch, there will be no tears on the channel," said Singh.

As far as the programming is concerned, three new shows are scheduled to launch before December. One of them being a stand-up comedy show called Lo Kal-lo Baat. If one were to draw a link with anything already existing it could loosely be said to have some similarity with Whose Line Is It Anyway? The show will have Saurabh Shukla as its host and a "pool of of 12-15 film and theatre personalities to do the stand up routines," Vrajesh Hirjee being one of them.

Lo Kal-lo Baat has been produced by Kalkhush Productions and as the newly appointed Sab senior vice president and business head Vikas Bahl points out, "is a show entering a space virtually virgin on Indian Television." Lo Kal-lo Baat will be aired from 7 November at 8:30 pm.

While a few old shows have been taken off air, some popular ones have been retained. Shows like Office Office, Yes Boss, Chuupke Chuupke and Aaj Ke Shrimaan Shrimati will continue on the channel.

Sab is presently showing re-runs of Office Office but is planning to have fresh episodes too in the near future. Some shows like Wah! Wah! have been revamped to match the new look and feel of the channel.

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