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Star Vijay banks on format shows

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MUMBAI: In a market heavily dominated by Sun TV, Star India's Tamil channel Vijay, is toying with new genres of programming to make a mark.

having flirted with Star shows like Nach Baliye and Koffee with Karan as early as 2005, this year Vijay has lined up shows like Airtel Super Singer-Junior, What do you want to watch at 8:30 pm? and a new edition of Lollu Saba.

Says Vijay general manager Ravi Menon, "Sun TV is a clear leader in the fiction category with its mega serials format. We decided to fill in the gap so far as non fiction programming is concerned - quiz shows, game shows, talent contests and laughter challenge shows - these have clearly been the ticket for our success."

An example of this is Jodi No.1 which is modelled along the lines of Star's Nach Baliye. It was one of the top drivers for the channel with the culminating episodes of the season earning a TVR of 7.39 (Market:Tamil Nadu TG:4+) for the month of December 2006, according to Tam data.

Says Menon, "The non-fiction genre has really worked for us and we will continue to explore new format shows."

The channel will replace Jodi No.1 with its new show Airtel Super Singer-Junior.

"The show starts on 24 February.The final auditions are currently in the process.The earlier version was quite popular and going by the response of the 'little champs' series by another rival channel (Zee TV), we decided to attract younger contestants on the show," says Menon.

There are also plans afoot to replicate a show along the lines of Big Brother. "The programming team is discussing the nitty gritties," he says.

While the channel has firmed up its non fiction programming, Menon also reveals plans for a new show which will replace the current soap 'Kandein Seethe'.

"The new show is loosely named What would you want to watch at 8:30 pm? We have certain criteria like - it should be a fictional show, the target audience will be female in the age group of 17-34+ and it will be aired on weekdays Monday through Thursday at 8:30 pm."

So far so good. But here's the interesting part. The channel has appointed six production houses - Yantra Media, Travelling Talkies, Magic Karma amongst others to produce four episodes of the show as they perceive it.

"Within the four episodes, the basic plot and grip of the story should be revealed and the various characters must be introduced. We have given the production houses equal time, money and opportunity to produce four episodes, which have to be submitted by March-end.

Thereafter, each week a studio audience along with the viewer will sit in judgement over these episodes. Director/actress Suhasini Ratnam will act as host and moderator. The studio audience will discuss the episodes and the phones will be thrown open for voting to the public. In short, the television viewer gets to choose what he/she wants to watch."

Once the winning show is selected, the channel will provide the production house with a Rs 14 million contract to produce 124 episodes to be aired on the 8:30 pm slot.

The channel has also tightened its weekend programming with the second edition of Lollu Sabha, a satire which re-enacts popular Tamil films and gives a comic twist to them. Lollu Sabha was re-launched early this year.

But any discussion on Star or Star Vijay would be incomplete without the mention of KBC3. The show is being dubbed in Tamil and unlike KBC2 which was telecast at the same time , the new series now airs a day later from Tuesday to Friday at 7 pm.

Says Menon, "In the interiors Shah Rukh is still recognized as the actor from the movie Hey Ram although his popularity is catching up amongst the masses. KBC3 is likely to be a slow gainer."

With a host of new shows lined up in the fiction and non fiction genre, Star Vijay has set its sights on capturing the second position in the Tamil entertainment channel stakes.

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