MUMBAI: “How you doin’?” means much more than just a greeting to people who grew up watching Friends. The iconic show about the six friends and their lives is back on the small screen.
Speaking on the reason behind airing the sitcom, the channel’s marketing head Shantanu Gangane says, “Friends is an iconic series which has a huge fan following even today. The synergy of the show matches perfectly well with our core channel proposition of ‘Love and Laughter’ and we are certain that the viewers will enjoy the 10 back to back seasons of Friends. With the soaring popularity of the channel and with a unique line up of movies and series, this series couldn’t have found a better destination to enthrall its fans.”
Romedy Now English Entertainment Channels content head Mansi Shrivastav adds, “When you look at a viewer who is switching it on, he’s not really looking at something with a telescope of time. It’s not sort of confined to whether it is old or it is new. We brought back Chaplin, which was made during The Little Renaissance (1910s), so there’s certain kind of content which is eternal. Friends is one of those; and since we are a channel which is all about love and laughter, we didn’t think twice while acquiring it.”
“Friends is a direct fit in terms of the synergy and the brand. We may even brink back content which is 20-30 years old, but the intent will always remain to make sure that it is within the umbrella of love and laughter,” informs Shrivastav.
About the timeslot chosen for the series Mondays to Thursdays 8 pm to 9 pm, Shrivastav says that it would only benefit the brand whilst giving the viewers what they need. “With the older show, it’s more about viewing it together. There’s a lot of binge-viewing that the country is doing. People are watching things all together. It is a show which does well anyway; it is a show which will benefit from being clubbed together as opposed to playing a half hour. Not only, are we airing the series from Mondays to Thursdays, we are also airing a marathon of all the episodes aired during the week on Saturday afternoon. It’s definitely that the consumers want, but for us as well it works because, we are giving one full hour of love and laughter into two different kinds of shows, with different kinds of library content versus premiere content.”
Gangane adds, “Airing the show at 8 pm somehow fits in very well with our scheme of things, of the TG really. Also, the numbers happen to stack up over there in terms of TAM numbers, we have the highest People Using TV (PUT) at that time. So, we’ve seen a fairly large amount of critical mass of the TG at that amount of time, on the entire category, which is English GECS’.”
With no title sponsor on board yet, the show is powered by Gionee Smartphones India. Romedy Now, part of Times Television Network, has acquired the exclusive broadcast rights to the show at a significant cost. According to Gangane, the brand’s TG is 15+, but that’s “more of a business bracket, than a content bracket.”
On whether marketing a series which is decade old was a daunting task, Gangane points out, “It was very important for us to go into the medium, talk that language and find the best way to contemporise Friends. You cannot really dish out the content from a manufacturer’s way and say that ‘great, Friends has launched, please come and watch it’. You have to contemporise it in various ways; so, one is the hashtags that we’ve created like #TGIF, #ToughestFriendsQuiz; then we’ve also come out with a contest. So, it was to do with having a consumer angle to this entire activation rather than really have another mother promo.”
Romedy Now used #ToughestFriendsQuiz which was trending across the nation on the first day of its launch. People themselves have created memes and hashtagged Romedy Now and #TGIF.
Apart from this, the channel through an exciting contest will be giving a chance to the biggest fans of the sitcom to go to LA and have coffee at the real ‘Central Perk’. The fans have to vote for their favourite character to win this.
Says a media veteran, "Just because Romedy Now is airing Friends in HD, it is not that big a deal. The viewers, such as myself, have seen it quite a few times on Star World or Zee Cafe. For me, it's just a repeat show, there's no excitement. Right now, people are savvy about the current shows... they download it as soon as it is aired abroad. Watching a TV Show is not like watching a movie, which you can repeat as many times, and still have people watching and enjoying it."