Television

Star Plus believes digital is the way forward

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(Hindi GEC Star Plus features in this the second of our series on what TV channels are doing in the digital and social media space)

It's the leader in the Hindi general entertainment space in India and has been so for the most part of the previous decade, and even this one. The Star India network, has been gung-ho on the online space, ever since one can remember like its owner Rupert Murdoch, who has had a fascination for it but confesses he does not know how to deal with it.

Star India took a big punt when it acquired the much-touted indya.com way back in 2001, coughing up a hefty $50 million in buying it. It has since not known what to do with it. Just like Murdoch failed to fathom what the group could do with myspace.com, finally selling it out cheap.

Star India‘s Indya.com fiasco looks unlikely to be repeated today. CEO Uday Shankar is quite clear on that and a crack team at the media giant has been working overtime to engage with its viewers.

"We have leveraged the platform of digital, our various digital assets and the power of broadcast integration to drive deeper multi-screen engagement and conversations," says Star India marketing & communications executive vice president Gayatri Yadav.

"Having an engaged audience that can interact with the brand is a very meaningful goal. This helps us build loyalty for the characters and the brand, develop interest in new launches and of course acts as a great influencer for new audiences to sample the on air content. The engaged audience base also acts as a great feedback mechanism for our content."

Star India marketing & communications executive vice president Gayatri Yadav

Star has been innovative in actively energising, featuring and interacting with audiences with powerful integration of online with on-screen content. All the key show launches and events now have at least one element of live engagement with the viewers. Auditions, which were earlier only limited to on-ground activities, have further been extended to the digital platform, reveals Yadav.

In terms of video content that it uploads, Star Plus broadly classifies it into long form and short form, catch-up content, web exclusives, promos and legacy. For platforms like YouTube the channel‘s approach has been to upload short form catch-up content, which it says has been very well received. Its own video platforms have long form catch up content, along with some marquee legacy shows.

Starplus.in and Star Player (www.startv.in) are among the two-owned platforms that it uses to encourage users to engage with the channel and download content. Data on how many downloads the Star Player app has achieved was not available at the time of writing but its Facebook page had received 93,000 likes or so.

Star Plus constantly keeps on updating pictures and videos of its shows on their website

Star Plus constantly keeps on updating pictures and videos of its shows on these websites. Star, however, does not upload an episode within a couple of hours of its telecast. Besides, it uses textual and image content like daily recaps, show highlights, trivia and polls to interact with and engage the visitor.

Apart from internet based platforms, Star Plus also leverages the reach of the voice platform through SPOM (Star Plus on Mobile – 5057827). Through its voice portal Star Plus on Mobile, the channel runs audio recaps of the daily shows, daily diaries, and voice blogs of popular characters and also title tracks of the shows.

Star Plus uses the mobile platform to leverage it‘s content

With live engagement being one of the significant elements, Star has Plus has created applications for Apple, Blackberry, Android and Nokia through which people could interact, chat with the judges and read blogs while watching shows such as ‘MasterChef India‘.

For some of its marquee shows like ‘Nach Baliye‘ and ‘MasterChef India‘, Star Plus has leveraged the transmedia storytelling route - where the main show has a strong storytelling leg running exclusively on digital platforms which link back meaningfully to the main show.

Apart from this, the channel has showcased its content on the digital platform through initiatives like the web premiere of ‘Saraswatichandra‘ exclusively for digital audiences.

Star Plus has an official Facebook page with around 2.80 million likes and hundreds of thousands of visitors talking about the channel and its programmes at any point in time. On Twitter, another vital ingredient of the social media mix, the channel has around 88,250 active followers. @StarPlus is buzzing with tweets and re-tweets every couple of hours. The numerous fan-driven handles of their popular shows are busy re-tweeting and sharing every Star update, making for a huge cacophony of views across the digital world.

YouTube also plays an integral part in Star's digital strategy with close to 2.50 million subscribers

YouTube also plays an integral part in Star's digital strategy with close to 2.50 million subscribers. Drama series and reality shows are attracting a good number of page views, say channel executives. Star uploads day-to-day activities, episodes that viewers may missed, comparatively, among on-air shows, fiction has an upper-hand over non -fiction shows.

The channel's official Facebook pages for some of its TV shows have received commendable responses from nitizens/viewers. The Facebook page of its leading fiction series ‘Diya Aur Baati Hum' has 2.34 million likes with 2,485 active followers on Twitter. ‘Diya Aur Baati Hum' also leads the drama genre with more than 32,304 video views on YouTube in just two days. Another fiction show ‘Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai' bagged 20,529 video views for one of its episodes. Reality shows such as ‘India's Dancing SuperStar' lead with 1,18,222 video views.

Star Plus marketing vice-president Nikhil Madhok

Star Plus marketing vice-president Nikhil Madhok states, "We are producing a lot of content exclusively for our digital assets, be it in the form of behind-the-scenes clips, rehearsal footage, bloopers, interviews and much more. We have even made special edits of the episode acts just for digital. For example, Chaavat Boys, which is a group of engineering students from a Mumbai college, have already become a rage online, and all their dance acts have gone viral. In fact, people have been uploading videos of their own version of Chaavatgiri."

Star Plus claims that 'Nach Baliye' generated one billion impressions online during the course of its telecast. Of these, a 100 million happened on the final episode itself, which not only trended at no 1 in India but also worldwide, it says.

'Satyamev Jayate', (SMJ) the first talk show produced by Aamir Khan Productions created a lot of buzz on social media platforms. It became the most searched query on Google immediately after its first episode. SMJ has 93,929 followers on Twitter and its official Facebook page has 1.69 million likes.

SMJ has 93,929 followers on Twitter and its official Facebook page has 1.69 million likes

Official pages of SMJ were launched on the big three of social media - Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to provide a platform for fans to share their views and interact. Updates were posted at regular intervals. Video snippets and full episodes were uploaded on YouTube for fans to watch the show or a favourite segment at their convenience.

Reports suggest that though initial conversations around SMJ were triggered by Aamir Khan's popularity, conversations around the causes he espoused on the show took centre stage later. The reason for this trend can be assumed to be the content fed into social media platforms. The fever of the show became strong on digital as the show only aired once in a week for 1 hour on Sunday. For the rest days, they storm the viewers by different social messages by constantly updating videos and statuses and also by tweeting.

"We at Star deeply cherish our relationship with consumers. Giving consumers a chance to engage and interact deeply with our brands and characters is no longer an option, but a necessity. It is something we value deeply and have set up a team, infrastructure and partners to enable us to interact meaningfully with consumers across the network," concludes Yadav.

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