Television

'Star One is repositioned to become suitable for youth audiences' : Ravi Menon - Star One EVP and GM

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Star One was launched as an upmarket Hindi general entertainment channel, second to Star Plus. Pioneer of big ticket shows like Nach Baliye and The Great Indian Laughter Challenge (TGILC), the channel is now on the path of repositioning.

In an interview with Indiantelevision.com's Richa Dubey, Star One executive vice president and general manager Ravi Menon talks about Star One's road ahead as the channel takes up a new positioning to address the youth while tapping family audiences.

Excerpts:

Star One has deviated a lot from its earlier positioning of an upmarket channel. What made you to shift from your earlier positioning?

You can't target the urban market with less money. And when you put in huge amounts, there has to be good returns. So we wanted to expand the market - for viewers as well as revenues.

Upmarket audiences are also not very sticky in nature. We found this in some of our popular shows like Sarabhai vs Sarabhai.

Is Star One on its way of getting revamped?

I would not call it a revamp. But from the time it was launched, Star One's positioning and programming has changed.

Our programming has now become suitable for youth. Our fictions are focussed towards youth, though families can still watch. In reality shows like Zara Nach Ke Dikha, we have roped in young participants and included family elements in it.

Our channel is primarily for youngsters. But we also respect family viewing.

What would you identify as your target group (TG)?

Star One targets the 10-30-year-olds. The core TG, though, is 18 to 22 years. But we are definitely not addressing the kind of TG that channels like Bindass or Channel [V] have. Our content is for the homogeneous market. We produce shows for youngsters wherein the entire family can sit and watch. We get family audiences, but on the back of these youngsters. People from all age groups can connect with all our shows like Annu Ki Ho Gayi Wah bhai Wah, Dil Mil Gayi, Pari Hoon Main and Choona Hai Aasmaan.

How have the advertisers responded to your current repositioning?

We have become a platform for the brands that want to address the youth. We foresee more brands that will come in. Advertisers are ready to pay money for new kind of shows.

Don't you think that the youth positioning is risky as we have seen in the case of Zee Next which has a mere 1-2 per cent of market share in the GEC space?

When you are addressing such a TG, there has to be a habit formation. We have been very successful in keeping consistency in viewership.

As I said earlier, we get the entire family to watch our channel on the back of youngsters. This strategy will lift Star One above the rest of the other new comers.

'We have been a trend setter in the stand up comedy front. Other channels have started cloning us soon after the success of The Great Indian Laughter Challenge'

Though Star One became the number three GEC for a week in January, since then there has been a constant dip and presently it ranks number 6. How do you explain this?

The important thing is that we are continuously reaching out to our TG. We are a GEC focussing on youth. But the new entrants in the market are targeting to compete with Star and Zee. So though we have become number 6 from number 3, in our target audience we are still the leader.

Overall, the GEC market share has got segmented because of new entrants. Do you see that affecting Star One?

The GEC market is segmented but brands are still willing to pay money. Presently if Kyunki Saas Bhi Bahu Thi gives a rating of 4 TVR, that is good enough in a fragmented market for media buyers and advertisers to put money behind them.

What kind of money is being pumped in for programming?

The programming budget depends on the requirements of the channel. We rework on it every quarter.

But GECs today roughly spend around Rs 7-8 billion. That is because the reality shows are very costly, - jury, studio, star costs have surged.

With such high money being pumped in, does it become to protect profitability of channels?

A good thing about reality shows are that they come with 10 to 12 sponsors and become popular - and they are for a short period. Although fictions do not come with so many sponsors, they are for long term and become popular gradually. So every show has a break even. Although the market is cluttered, that does not affect the bottomline because there are many brands ready to advertise.

Your weekday prime time fresh programming is of two hours. In the other day parts you show repeats of your present as well as older shows like India Calling and The Special Squad. Are you going to expand original content on the channel?

We sell advertisers our original programmes. Putting fresh shows on every time slot is expensive; we, thus, run repeats of the older shows. We have bulk deals with advertisers.

For Star One, reality shows like Bol baby Bol and Funjaabi did not become as popular as Laughter Challenge?

Bol Baby Bol did fairly well, delivering a rating of 1+ TVR in some weeks. We experimented with Funjaabi and Kisko Milega Cash. While announcing the launch, we had said that the show will run for a month and if it does well, then we would continue it further.

Doling out prize money daily was a mistake that we did. Probably if we were to bring another series of the show, we would give money only once a week.

But we have been a trend setter in the stand up comedy front. We hunt the talents and raise the stars. Other channels have started cloning us soon after the success of The Great Indian Laughter Challenge.

How will you create an equally big property like Nach Baliye?

Now our aim is to create equally clutter breaking shows like Zara Nach ke Dikha.

What big shows are coming up?

We have Zara Nach Ke Dikha which is a celebrity dance competition between boys and girls. It will go on air somewhere in mid July. The slot and day has not been decided yet. There are a few more shows which will be unveiled soon.
Can we expect this show to be slotted for weekend prime time while other shows will fill up the weekday primetime band?

Currently the slotting of shows has become very crucial, especially for the prime time. After IPL, many channels have launched shows at the prime time; they were all waiting for IPL to get over. Colors will launch in July and we will monitor everything closely before we fix the timing of our shows.

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