MUMBAI: There’s heaps of buzz going around leading Hindi General Entertainment Channel (GEC) Star Plus that, many say, is all set to offer an extra dose of fiction to its viewers. It has been learnt that once the curtains come down on its weekend dance reality show - Nach Baliye 6 – the channel will extend its primetime weekday fiction band as its replacement on the weekend too.
Thus viewers will be in a position to watch episodes of its hugely successful shows which air between early prime (6:00 pm) to late prime time (11:30 pm) on Saturdays too.
This, sources say, is going to continue till the channel comes up with another weekend show. Last year, its rival Colors too had extended its weekday programmes (between 7:30 and 9:00 pm) to the weekend once its singing reality show Sur-Kshetra ended.
Sunday nights will, however, see the debut of standup comic Sunil Grover with his own hour-long show with a character called Chutki. Sunil’s character Gutthi on Colors’ Comedy Nights with Kapil had become a phenomenon of sorts, and hence he decided to break away and produce his own show – something which caused a lot of heartburn to Colors and Kapil. Chutki - which will see Sunil once again in drag - is being produced by Keylight Productions. Filming has begun in Trombay, close to the television production capital of Mumbai.
The shows that are being extended till Saturday include Iss Pyar Ko Kya Naam Doon, Ek Ghar Banaunga, Saath Nibhaana Saathiya, Saraswatichandra, Meri Bhabhi, Mahabharat, Diya Aur Bati Hum, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Pyaar Ka Dard Hai Meetha Meetha Pyara Pyara, Veera and Ye Hai Mohabbatein.
While most Star India’s producers have agreed to churn out extra episodes, it is learnt from an industry source that those producing early prime time series, have yet to sign on the dotted line, for reasons best known to them.
Producers of popular shows – Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai and epic series Mahabharat – Rajan Shahi and Siddharth Tewary respectively confirm to indiantelevision.com that they now have to start producing one extra episode every week. They say that it is going to be hectic, but are geared up for it.
Star Plus business head Gaurav Banerjee was unavailable for comment, but industry experts say the move will help Star Plus add big bucks straight to its bottomline, as costs for fiction are a fraction of non-fiction reality shows. Hence the returns on its investment are quite likely to be big for Star Plus.
Media professionals are, however, divided on whether extending fiction to the weekend will give a boost to Star Plus' viewership as during the weekend the audience wants to break away from the monotony and experience something different. Lodestar UM vice president Deepak Netram remarks: “The audience during the weekend is different from the week days. More male members and kids are among the viewers and they may not be open to the idea of watching the daily soaps. There are chances that the channel will lose out on its audience. But the regular audience of the daily soaps will continue watching their favourite programmes.”
However, another media planner and buyer looks at it differently. On condition of anonymity, he says: “This should see Star Plus' TVTs going up on a weekly basis. Remember, fiction shows have the highest stickiness, even higher than non-fiction, which comes in as tent-pole properties to generate spikes in viewership. The fiction shows already have a loyal group of viewers who will undoubtedly tune in even on Saturdays as they will want to stay connected with what’s happening with the story lines. Therefore, it will be easy for Star Plus’ sales team to rope in the existing advertisers on these shows over the weekend telecast too. I see it as a win-win situation for the channel.”