'We can monetise more in a digitised environment' : Business Head of Sab Anooj Kapoor

A product manager at Colgate Palmolive, a copywriter at JWT, an ad producer, a sitcom writer and director, and finally a television channel head. Anooj Kapoor has successfully worn different hats in his career spread over two decades. And why not? He follows what is dear to his heart, so much so that he quit Colgate to join JWT at half the salary that he used to earn at the FMCG major. Reason: he could pursue his creative instincts.

His urge to write and direct ads made him launch his own production house called Creative Compass in 1999, which he ran successfully for three years.

Kapoor joined UTV to head its comedy cell in 2004 and made shows like Sharaarat for Star Plus. He went on to write many shows for Indian television. In 2007, he moved to Sab and what followed was a change in positioning to a family entertainment channel. Since then, Sab has shown remarkable growth. 

In an interview with‘s Prachi Srivastava, the business head of Sab talks about the channel‘s growth and how it can benefit from digitisation.


How has Sab performed after the first phase of digitisation?

Sab has grown from 130 GRPs pre-digitisation to around the 150 GRP mark on a consistent basis. Two factors have contributed to this growth. The shows that we had launched in the digitisation phase have been received well, be it Balveer, Jennie Juju or Waah Waah Kya Baat Hai. We had set a target of 151 GRPs for March 2014 which we have achieved in January. So we are more than a year ahead in achieving our targets.

Apart from content, what has also worked for us is the fact that we are now placed in the Hindi GEC cluster on the Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) in Mumbai and Delhi market because of which the sampling of the channel has gone up. With increased sampling, the time spent on the channel has also increased and, therefore, the growth in viewership.

Do you see any change in viewership patterns?

There is no such change. Our channel is for the entire family and is fairly divided between Males, Females and Kids. The representation of viewership has remained unaltered. It’s just that more families have sampled the channel; the composition remains the same.

The 6-8 pm slot is generally for youth TV viewers. Are you looking at cracking this time slot?

Our focus remains the family, and not just youth. Previously, we were a youth entertainment channel with shows like Left Right Left and Love Story. At that time we could collect only 20-22 GRPs. So we realised that the youth positioning is not really helping us. We, thus, changed the positioning to a family-led comedy channel.

There was a time when Hindi GECs were having original programming on the afternoon slot. Do you have any plans to revive this slot?

Despite our budgetary limits, we have extended our prime time programming to seven days now. We don’t have the bandwidth or interest to revive the afternoon slot as our primary TG is family and not just the female audience. Our channel has a male skew and 51 per cent of this segment constitute our audience profile.

‘Comedy is a very nascent genre but is bound to grow. If there are five channels that are showing the same kind of shows and there is just one channel which is showing comedy, it is obvious that people will watch us‘

Max has a vast library. Do you plan to air movies from their library?

Over the last four years, we have been able to build the slot of classic titles on our channel because these are the films that people are not able to watch on regular basis and there is a definite audience that we have managed to create over the last four years. They don’t get to see those titles on any other Hindi GEC. So we get undiluted audience coming to watch the classic films.

Which are the weak slots that you would like to strengthen?

We recently launched two shows, Hum Aapke Hain in Laws (HAHIL) and Tota Aur Maina at the 10-11 pm slot. Tota Aur Maina, which airs at 10.30 pm, is struggling a bit. We would like to strengthen that slot.

Are there any new shows that you are planning to launch?

We have nothing pre-IPL. We have just launched Safar Filmy Comedy Ka, which is a tribute to 100 years of cinema in India.

How do you plan to expand geographically?

We don’t make shows for a particular market. However, characterisation can be from a certain state. For example, HAHIL and Tota Aur Maina are both based in UP.

Was 2012 a forgettable year for Hindi GECs as few of the new shows worked with audiences?

The industry is indulging and over-indulging in permutations and combinations of the Saas-Bahu formula. Either the people have run out of formulas or the audience has run out of patience. The year 2012 was no different. They have the same Saas-Bahu drama and the same reality shows.

The digital media has been growing in leaps and bounds. Any plans there?

We are launching an app- Sab Ke Comics for iOS and Android with over a 100 Comic Strips of six shows to entertain fans on the go (on smartphones and Tablets) with short jokes from Sab shows and characters. This app is an adaptation of the successful print ads in comic strip formats in leading newspapers. These are for shows like Jeannie aur Juju, Chidiya Ghar, FIR, Lapataganj, R.K. Laxman and Golmaal.

We have also launched Sab’s popular characters: Gadha, Gopi, Mama, and Gulgule as 3D animated talking character which repeats whatever the user speaks. The characters also react to gestures like tickling and punches.

There is also an augmented reality app where one can scan images on a Sab TV Dairy or Calendar and see the character coming to life in a video format. Besides, one can also have their pictures clicked with popular Sab characters.

We recently launched SABurbia which has been extended to apps. Here players can visit and interact with different show worlds and characters in a quest to help the Sab characters and become the mayor of SABurbia.

Will Sab be able to monetise more in the digitised environment?

Yes, the point is that we have moved into the EPG and we are in the vicinity of the other Hindi GECs, which was not the case earlier. Earlier, it was difficult for consumers to come across our channel on a consistent basis in various areas. Now the availability of Sab will be easier and, hence, there will be more trial and sampling for the channel. We believe that once the sampling increases, the retention of the audience will also increase. If there is more retention, there is more ratings. This increases the monetization scope.

What is the future of comedy as a genre on Indian television?

It is a very nascent genre but is bound to grow. If there are five channels that are showing the same kind of shows and there is just one channel which is showing comedy, it is obvious that people will watch us.

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