interview with Star India EVP marketing and communications Anupam Vasudev|
will fight competition with innovative content'
on 16 July 2009|
rearguard action time at Star Plus. Edged out after
a nine-year life at the top, Star Plus is making moves
to shed off the "saas-bahu" image that stuck
on to the channel.
followed is a flurry of differentiated content. While Kiran Bedi played judge
on social issues in Aap Ki Kachehri, matrimonial show Star Vivah gave a platform
to many prospective brides and grooms.
Plus also experimented with shows like Paanchvi Paas that made no major impact
on its ratings.
big show now is Sach Ka Saamna, an adaptation of the bold and sensational The
Moment Of Truth.
an interview with Indiantelevision.com's Anindita Sarkar,
Star India EVP marketing and communications Anupam Vasudev talks about Star Plus'
road ahead as the channel takes up the challenge to regain its leadership position
and widen the gap with its rivals.
The first half of the year has really been interesting with the GEC space witnessing
the rise of three strong players at the top. Does this mean the absolute end to
the Star monopoly?
The game is not yet over. We had nine years of undisputed
leadership and it's been a great run for us. Look, in
all categories and businesses, competition does catch
up at some point of time - and they have caught up with
us. In the last couple of months there have been ups
and downs in the top three category, but we were never
out of the game. In fact there were weeks when we did
come back to the number one spot. So these things will
keep happening in terms of the top three players for
a while until one of them breaks away to rein the top
slot singularly. We are ensuring that Star Plus is the
one that breaks away from the lot to establish its leadership
one more time.
So how do you plan to break away from the top three league?
can see, there is a whole new programming that is being brought in to Star Plus.
We have just launched Sach Ka Saamna in the non-fiction category. We will
be launching a new fiction show, Sajan Ghar Jaana Hai, very soon. We are
also firming up our fiction category further with a couple of new shows, lined
up for the next two to three months.
will also continue to strengthen our existing offerings
and products that have the potential to grow like iconic
shows Yeh Rishta... and Bidaai and recent
launches such as Mitwa and Laadli.
we are bringing across a lot of innovative content to fight competition and ensure
that we retain our leadership with consistency - and with enough gap from everyone
Though you have a loyal base of 200 plus GRPs coming in from fiction and non-fiction
show, content like events and films are also impacting a further 30 GRPs. Does
this mean that you are also banking a lot of such content to push up your GRP
For a GEC channel, events and films have always been an inherent
part of the programming mix, especially movies that contribute about 15 per cent
to our total revenue and also help to drive in family viewership. However, the
real changes that have happened in the movie sphere in the recent past is that
the time gap between a movie coming to the theatre and being aired has shortened.
So the effect is more. Also, movies have started getting syndicated instead of
being exclusively owned. These are the two significant changes that have come
into the movie business on television. But from a programming or a brand perspective,
offering movies to viewers has consistently been part of our network strategy
wherein our channels run movies. This includes our regional channels. So movies
have always been a core element of our programming strategy.
From the time you first began ruling the number one slot to now, what kind of
shift in audience taste have you witnessed?
Today, the larger group of
the Indian audience has got younger. Audiences have moved away from demanding
regressive content to content that evokes an open belief system. Meanwhile, the
market has also expanded significantly from being metro-focused to being small
town focused. Market has moved up both in terms of measurement and penetration.
So there are more people and players coming into the category than there were
in the past. There has been an enormous growth in the regional sphere as well.
All this taken together has led to a significant upgradation in the quality of
content, viewership and competition, bringing in a fundamental change in the minds
of the consumers.
that the primary reason to do away with Balaji's saas-bahu sagas?
nothing to do away with. We thought that we needed fresher and younger shows coming
in because a show that has run for nine years obviously needs to be refreshed.
I don't think in any part of the world a show can continue for so long. The K-series
had a good run and did brilliantly for the channel, but then changes were prevalent
and we responded to them.
Plus, anyway, still continues to source a few shows like Tujh Sang
Kis Des Mein Hai Mera Dil from Balaji and they are still a part of the
producers list who work with us.
seems whenever audience starts responding to a certain kind of show format, the
other players follow suit. So is there any differentiated content actually existing?
Of course there is! Everything has to be differentiated if you want to drive
Star Plus' revenue mix, the afternoon band contributes
15-20 per cent. We plan to build up on our existing bouquet of shows'
Are social issue-based formats driving the current GEC programming?
topics have always been played upon on television as it reflects society and further
helps establish connect with the audience with relevant societal discussion points.
So, it really does not mean copying content. We are not here to talk about social
issues in a fashionable way, but yes everything has to have a concept that connects
with the society emotionally and entertains them as well. For example, Bidaaii
which is a tale of the dark skinned versus the fair skinned sisters or for that
matter Laadli which reflects love for a girl child. It reflects society but is
surely weaved into a concept that is contemporary to the society today.
what kind of changes have you brought in to your programming strategy?
Our shows have always been about hope, optimism and family
values with a further support from a high level of romanticism.
So there has not as such been any drift in our strategy.
Thus, Star Plus will continue to target the women-oriented
mass India audience between the age group of 18-35. Family
will, of course, remain our secondary audience that will
be driven in by reality shows and movies.
What are you doing to beef up your afternoon band?
We are already running
three shows in our afternoon band -Tujh Sang Preet Lagayi Sajna, Hamari Devrani
and Star Vivah. All of them are performing quite well for the channel, driving
in a lot of women audience in the afternoon band. This contributes 15-20 per cent
to our total revenue. So, right now we plan to build up on our existing bouquet
Can you elaborate on your marketing strategy?
Apart from the usual print, radio and television,
we are getting aggressive on the digital space. Activating
ideas cleverly is another very important segment that
we are working upon to create hype and excitement for
our various properties. On-ground activation has also
become an important part of our marketing mix to create
an interactive interaction with consumers that will
help in attracting newer eyeballs.
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