Television

Life OK's Sunday programming experiment

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Attention! An experiment is about to hit Indian televisionscreens come Sunday 23 June. If you‘ve not been switching on your television set on Sunday morns or noons for want of there being any original programming - apart from movies, and have had enough of watching singing and dancing shows in the evenings, then Life OK may be your new destination this weekend.

Bringing a new kind of programming, extending its spheres, Life OK promises uninterrupted entertainment 12 noon to 12 midnight (baara – se – baara) on 23 June. Life Ok general manager Ajit Thakur is bracing himself for this Sunday gamble…

But is this attempt a first of its kind? A recap of Sunday programming tells us that there was a time in India, a couple of decades ago; when streets were deserted owing to the single channel king Doordarshan and its strong Sunday programming. Flashing forward from the era of a single channel universe, leading general entertainment channels (GECs) like Star Plus and more recently, Colors have also encroached this territory.

While Star struck an emotional chord with the nation by launching the very successful Aamir Khan anchored social show Satyameva Jayate, Colors had started airing non-fiction award shows in the early afternoon, followed by a movie screening and concluding it with a soft scripted drama cum reality show- Zindagi Ki Haqeeqat Se Aamna Saamna. Zee TV has Ramayan, a mythology show in the morning slot which, however, is not living up to audience’s expectations.

Yet, generation of 12 hours full of fresh content is somewhat a brave initiative by Star Plus’s sister GEC.

Life OK, over the past couple of weeks has grown steadily in terms of GRPs (though it shed GRPs in week 24). The weekend slot of the channel is grabbing more and more eye balls with each passing week. With this as an opportunity, Life OK thought of going all the way and see if it works.

Life OK GM Ajit Thakur is taking a punt with his baara - se - baara initiative on this Sunday (23 June)

Thakur states: “I am quite delighted with the way we have received responses from the viewers over the past couple of weeks. Talking about 12pm to 12am, on weekends, we have found a bit of a gold mine as people are available throughout the day. Unlike other markets, in LC1 markets there is a lot of viewership happening. Everybody is doing show launches and wants to target between 8pm – 12am time slots so we thought to bring a change by extending our programming which has not been done by anybody till now.”

The channel aims to own this Sunday with a combination of crime, terror, mythology programming. Audiences will get to see Savdhaan movie- part 2, which is going to be much more informative and different from the first one.

New reality series on the list include Police dial 100, a new innovation where the channel crew will accompany the Delhi cops, running behind them, observing how they solve the cases and recording them. The reality show, produced by Endemol, will occupy a double slot along with the Savdhaan movie -Part 2. The channel had already shot 10 episodes of the show at the time of writing.

The channel will also air fresh episodes of Mahadev and Shapat.

More on the entertainment side, Life OK also plans to air a special Bollywood movie to garner more eyeballs.

“Let’s raise the ambition with maha – thriller weekend baara – se – baara.” asserts Thakur when asked why he chose particularly Sunday and not Saturday as part of his weekend programming. “Saturday in terms of viewership, is not that high as Sunday. Besides, a large chunk of India works on Saturday’s and it‘s a humongous task for me to ask my team and my producers to do such a hectic programming, as 12 hours is a lot of time.”

What is rather disappointing is the fact that this unique 12 hour programming is slated only for the coming Sunday. Thakur reasons: “To be frank, we want to test it first, this is the trail run. I wanted advertiser’s feedback and we attained success when we did 6am -6pm on 2 June. We received good responses in terms of viewership and advertisers as well. So we thought of further strengthening it by bringing baara – se – baara and I am sure we will get good responses for this as well. And when we do might it make it a regular initiative at least once a month.”

The channel plans to promote the weekend initiative largely in the coming three days. However, the focus will be more on promoting across social media platforms rather than on-ground activities. Its management plans to leave no stone unturned to make its presence felt on digital media by targeting fan driven pages and profiles of their flagship shows likeMahadev and Savdhaan. To top it all, the channel is also buying air time on other channels, out of which, the promotion will be huge on Star network channels while few news channels and youth-based channels are also being approached.

When asked what makes Life OK and Star Plus different in terms of content and programming Thakur says: “Star plus targets women in the household a lot more and that has always been Star’s strength. On the other hand, Life OK targets the whole family. In terms of content, Star talks about aspirations and about new Indian relationships whereas Life OK deals with crime, mythology, terror, spirituality and cops. Star Plus talks about relationships between Nanad – Bhabhi and new thinking and that is why ‘nayi soch’ whereas Life OK talks about today’s reality of life through our stories and what makes life OK on a daily basis. Life OK tries to inspire people by picking up serious social topics.”

Further elaborating on the fact that this Sunday is an experiment, Thakur shares: “For us it is the experiment to change the rules of the game. I always have the support of Uday Shankar (Star India CEO) and Sanjay Gupta (Star India COO). And yes it is a big risk I am taking as nobody has gone into 12 hours of programming. Some would say wow great… while some would say it is too much. While, everybody is giving repeats to the audiences and we are giving original programming. What is more important for us is how our viewers will react to it.”

Vivaki Exchange CEO Mona Jain says the experiment should do well for Life OK

But will this trial run work for the channel? Vivaki Exchange CEO Mona Jain asserts: “There are many channels which are plugging in for reality shows on Sunday’s. Life OK is taking a good initiative by coming up with 12-hours of programming to create more impact with the audiences at large, where most of the people are at home resting. Mahadev and Savdhaanare high property shows and are taking the same route that is weekend slots, making it easy for them to spot on the ratings. And people who are loyal audiences of Life OK will watch these shows no matter what. Thus I am quite sure that this kind of experimentation should do well."

We, along with team Life OK, wait with anxious eagerness to know the result of this experiment…

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