“The programming strategy of Sony Pal is very hypothetical currently”: Anooj Kapoor

MUMBAI: In early January this year, broke the news about the almost six month old baby from the Multi Screen Media (MSM) stable, Sony Pal looking for a revamp. Reason: failure of few of its shows to connect with the hearts of its target audience. 

Launched on 1 September, 2014, the channel targeted women in the age group of 15-34 years in SEC BCDE. 

The channel, from December 2014, had slashed 1.5 hours of content from 3.5 hours and showcased only two hours of original content till February 2015 until they decided to clamp down on fresh content and continue to air repeats.

Sony Pal and Sab SVP and business head Anooj Kapoor had earlier stated, “We are soon going to come back in the same slots, which have been shut down with new programmes in terms of dailies and with consumer feedback on-board. Hopefully, this time around we will go to the next level. We are going to come back with exact consumer expectations as they have articulated after viewing the channel.”

Now until the time that the channel is back with a fresh line-up of shows, MSM has come up with a strategy to put Pal on Prasar Bharati’s free-to-air (FTA) digital platform DD Freedish. 

Moreover, it has added shows of its two other GECs - Sony Entertainment Television (SET) and Sab on Pal to attract audiences from the Freedish market.

However the channel will continue to remain a pay channel on all other platforms. Kapoor reiterates that Pal will continue to be a pay channel and it has not compromised on the pricing of the channel on other platforms. 

So how will getting on Freedish help Sony Pal? According to Kapoor, the idea on Pal is to get a certain threshold level ingredients and get in fresh and original programming again. 

He goes on to say that in the repeat format today, Star Utsav from the Star India stable, gets 67 per cent of its ratings from Freedish. “Our understanding was that if we want to reach anywhere near to those figures, we had to get onboard Freedish,” he said.

It can be recalled that one of the reasons for the failure that Kapoor had stated was of distribution. The channel was not optimally present everywhere at the time of launch. That affected the initial sampling. The fact that, in the digital space, the channel was about 15 LCNs (local channel numbers) away from the leading Hindi GECs made it worse. For the audiences to locate, sample and actually break a habit of viewing other shows was a task.

When questioned about the progress on that front, Kapoor explained, “Whatever the learnings have been, we will plug it in when we bring in fresh programming. And if the channel has already hit a certain threshold, then the investment will also be poured in as that is also required to plug in the distribution gaps.”

When asked about the revamp stage, Kapoor defines its programming strategy currently to be very hypothetical. “We don’t know how much time it will take for us to reach the threshold level. But once we reach there, we will start our original programming.”

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