MUMBAI: There was a time when not many English General Entertainment Channels (GECs) existed. Star World, launched in 1996, belongs to that phase. Today, the channel has grown to include others of its ilk even as it betters itself with each passing day. Aashay Dalvi of indiantelevision.com spoke to business head of Star English channels Kevin Vaz to get a lowdown on the programming – past, present and future – of Star World and its more recent sister channels, Star World Premiere and FX.
One of the first channels to air the best shows of that time like Ghost Whisperer, Smallville and The O.C., Star World discontinued these after the first few seasons. “They failed to gather as much viewership and ratings as were expected. And taking into consideration TAM ratings and heavy consumer research, we made our decision to axe the Indian broadcast of these shows and air new content that was constantly being produced,” reasons Vaz.
Why only these, save for Masterchef Australia, Star World also scrapped reality shows like Beauty and the Geek, Are You Smarter Then A Fifth Grader?, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me out of Here and American Idol. According to Vaz, “Indian audiences simply could not connect to the foreign content. Indians would much rather watch Indian adaptations avec plaisir. And, the evidence is right in front of you with Bigg Boss (based on Big Brother) and Kaun Banega Crorepati (based on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?), both tremendously successful Indian adaptations of essentially British series.”
Even a daily soap as popular as The Bold and the Beautiful (B&B) was axed and so was General Hospital, the sole reason being declining viewership.
Thereafter, Star World tried substituting soaps with telenovellas such as Desire: Table for Three and Fashion House, which aired every weeknight at 11 with a Saturday recap marathon but without success.
Finally, when the channel decided to air weeklies as dailies, it worked and how!
Shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Supernatural, Mad Men and Revenge struck a chord with the masses and managed to increase viewership over a period of time.
So much so, Star World now has Castle re-runs every night. And who better to blame than Ekta Kapoor? “During the years of Ally McBeal and Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, the entire country would watch weeklies. However, with the advent of Kyunki… Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, people’s viewing habits changed substantially. They now wanted to watch their favourite TV shows every day,” argues Vaz.
Then again, Star World loyalists continue to wait for a week to see a brand new episode of their favourite show. To its credit, the channel airs latest episodes of hit series including Dexter, Homeland and Once Upon A Time very close to their US broadcast.
With a growing number of viewers wanting to catch the latest such series, fresh from the US, Star added Star World Premiere to its bouquet of English GECs.
In fact, at the time of its launch, Star World Premiere had as many as 26 latest series from the US. As things stand, newbies Intelligence, Rake, American Horror Story: Coven, Mom, The Millers and The Goldbergs have joined the likes of The Blacklist, Sleepy Hollow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to create a captivating programming line-up on Star World Premiere.
Meanwhile, Star World continues to hold sway, what with Vaz revealing that all of the new shows (and that includes marquee series Mad Men) on Star World Premiere will soon be available on Star World for binge-watching.