Television

'We are targeting 20 per cent revenue growth this fiscal' : Anooj Kapoor- Sab senior vice president & business head

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From launching new shows to experimenting with new genres and time slots, Sab has been running from pillar to post to get the ratings right.

Post Sony acquisition, Sab has been dabbling with an ‘identity crisis’. From being a comedy channel to a youth-centric channel and now returing to its original positioning, Sony Entertainment Channel’s sibling channel has seen it all. It has experimented with various genres – youth-centric patriotic shows, stand-up comedies, reality-based acting shows and detective stories.

In conversation with Indiantelevision.com's Nasrin Sultana, Sab SVP and business head Anooj Kapoor shares the channel's programming strategies.

Excerpts:

Sab has been accused of experimenting too often with its positioning. How long will this new positioning last?

We have repositioned ourselves as a complete comedy channel. It is the only channel in the country which does linear family comedy shows. All comedy shows in India are episodic. After the repositioning, we are doing light-hearted soaps like other Hindi general entertainment channels (GEC), but in the positive manner.

We have recreated the concept of soaps. The shows can be watched by the entire family. All the other soaps till date have upheld the joint-family system as a negative institution with so much added conflict in it. In our shows, we are upholding the virtues of a joint family.

Unlike other soaps on Hindi GECs, new shows (Lo Ho Gayi Pooja Is Ghar Ki, Mein Kab Saans Banoogi? and Jugni Jali Jallandhar ) on Sab have a woman protagonist; but she does not indulge in kitchen politics.

Our content is fresh and differentiated. We have decided not to go by the Amar-Akbar-Anthony route which every GEC is treading upon. Wherein Amar is reality show, Akbar is mythology and Anthony is fiction.

What kind of new shows and segments of comedy will you be introducing?

We will get into various kinds of comedy. Gradually, we will be introducing horror comedy, courtroom comedy, hospital comedy and the likes. We have many surprises to unveil.

With so much of comic content being thrown in by different channels including news channels, do you think there is still enough space for a complete comedy channel?

Viewers are ready to digest a complete comedy channel. As far as comedy on news channels is concerned, they feed on GECs. GECs are not showing comedy content in the truest sense but only have stand-up comedy shows. We have amalgamation of all, which is working well for the channel.

Earlier all comedy shows were targeted at male audiences while GECs were meant for the females. There was no channel to fill up this gap. We are providing content for happy family viewing.

How have viewers taken to Sab's new positioning?

The new positioning has really worked well for us. Our GRPs also have seen a boost after the change in positioning.

Our driver show Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah has been garnering 0.8 TRPs and is currently the most watched family comedy show on Indian television. After Wagli Ki Duniya, Taarak Mehta … is one of the most successful comedy shows adapted from a book (column in this case). It is compared to cult shows like Office Office.

Are new advertisers hopping on?

Definitely we are attracting more and new advertisers. New brands are coming on.

'For a channel, youth positioning is not a feasible biz model in India'

Will Sab see revenue growth as a result or are you dealing with falling rates to fill up your inventory at a time when the whole industry is set for a slowdown?

With the new positioning, we are targeting 20 per cent ad revenue growth this fiscal.

How are you pushing forward your new shows? Which cities are your touch points?

We have rolled out our new marketing campaign Asli Mazaa Sab ke Saath Aata Hai. Sab (meaning everybody in Hindi) is a key word in the entire campaign. Very logically, we derived this theme and our attempt is to convey the message that it is complete entertaining when you are together with your family.

We are targeting all the Hindi speaking markets in India like Delhi, Mumbai, Gujarat, Maharashtra, UP, MP, Punjab and Rajasthan.

We will be indulging in various forms of on-ground activations like wall painting etc. India has laughter clubs in many towns and cities, we are trying to get associated with all the laughter clubs. We are going to malls, beauty parlours, grocery shops and ladies coampartment in local trains for a Sab experience by distributing gifts.

With so many show launches and changes in positioning of the channel, isn't it natural that your marketing costs have to be pushed up?

Yes, in marketing our new shows we are investing a considerable amount. But we are able to convert it into profits.

What are the difficulties to sustain as a youth channel?

India still has single-TV homes wherein the remote is still with the women of the house. So what pleases her is watched by the entire family. And as far as a youth viewer is concerned, he has many more modes of entertainment - irrespective of he coming from a small town or a metro. Youth positioning of a channel is not a feasible business model in India because of the consumer behaviour that this segment is exposed to.

As per our internal research, people still associate Sab brand as a comedy rather than a youth channel. So we decided to go back to our original positioning.

What all innovations you are introducing after the establishment of the new positioning?

For the first time in India, we are introducing jokes in the mobile platform. These jokes will be edited clippings from our comedy shows which can be downloaded from the mobile operator. We are in talks with various telecom operators.

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