Star India to weave advertiser funded shows

NEW DELHI: Having dominated the Indian satellite airwaves for over six years, Star India is rolling out more big ticket initiatives on the programming, marketing and new business fronts.

And, like the legendary archer Arjuna, the company is only looking at the target: further domination of viewing space and upping its annual revenue, which has already seen a substantial jump (some say in the region of 20-30 per cent) in FY06 ended 30 June, beating industry growth rate.In FY07, with an eye on monetizing on-air popular properties, Star India has hit upon a plan, which it describes as advertiser funded shows.

This would involve big advertisers getting a chance to have their products woven into the script and thus advertised by characters with whom millions of Indians identify --- a bigger and refined version of in-film and in-serial placements of ads.

This initiative will be kicked off from middle to end August beginning with Star Plus shows.
“We are looking at long and strategic engagement with our clients as we don’t want to confine it to small incentives,” Star India president, ad sales and distribution, Paritosh Joshi pointed out, while explaining the rationale behind the advertiser funded shows.

Though Joshi and marketing head Satya Raghavan were not ready to divulge further details on this, they admitted companies from various segments like automobiles, fast-moving consumer goods and telecommunication had evinced interest.

This particular plan is most likely to be seen in channels like Star Plus, Channel [V], Star One and Star Vijay where the company has control over content creation.

“In due course of time, our producers of shows will be informed of this move so that content can be intelligently scripted to have place for products,” Joshi said.

As part of the gameplan for FY06, the Hindi blockbuster movies will be back on Star Plus with the charge being led by Aamir Khan-starrer neo-angst flick Rang De Basanti to coincide with India’s Independence Day on 15 August.

The other big films include this year’s present biggest grosser Krrish, Bluffmaster, Taxi No. 9211, Amitabh bachchan-starrer Family, Chup Chup Ke and Prakash Jha’s take on the Bihar cottage industry called abduction-of-people-for-ransom Apaharan.

After premiering on Star Plus, these movies will air on Star Gold, which, according to Raghavan, has established itself. Star Movies will bond with the best of thrills and frills via the entire series of Bond flicks.

New shows on flagship channels Star Plus and Star One will include the epic Ramayan set in the future in Antariksh, Balaji’s Karam Apna Apna, Ektaa Kapoor-Smriti Irani joint production Thodi Si Zameen Thoda Sa Aasmaan, the adventures of an Indian Indiana Jones in Lucky, Balaji’s Kis Rishte Se and Sanjog.

The approach for Star Plus for the coming year is simple: bring more stories with identifiable plots and characters that will hook the entire family and not any particular segment of the audience only.

Then, of course, Star will roll out initiatives on the gaming and Internet front too to take interactivity a notch higher than what is presently seen on Star channels, says Raghavan.

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