15 Dec 2017
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SAB TV’s content redesigning plan

MUMBAI: Over the last couple of months, Sony Pictures Networks’ (SPN) comedy entertainment channel SAB TV has taken hard decisions of pulling the plug on many new shows, while also making changes in the existing content in the form of introducing certain characters with a broader appeal.

This is part of the content redesigning plan that SAB is undergoing to make itself better equipped to post growth in the BARC era. The channel­ had seen a drop in the viewership after the industry embraced the new television viewership measurement system BARC.

Anooj Kapoor 01“BARC adversely affected us,” SPN senior EVP and business head of SAB and Sony Pal Anooj Kapoor tells TelevisionPost.com. “I always maintain that comedy tickles the intellect and therefore we always had a very strong SEC (socio economic classification) AB audience. However, the BARC sample design is heavily skewed towards LC1 (less than 1 lakh population) and rural, which was not our forte.”

Incidentally, under TAM, the earlier measurement system, SAB had a strong viewership among the higher SECs in urban areas. But BARC design as well as the new classification (NCCS) is very different. BARC captures LC1 towns also under urban ratings, which started putting some pressure on SAB’s viewership.

“We have been customising our content as per the TAM design, and because we catered to a certain kind of audience, our ratings went down,” says Kapoor. He agrees that it has taken the channel some time to make the changes and redesign content so that the sample audience is covered by BARC is more favourable towards SAB.

The redesigning

First, channel ended the following shows—‘Peterson Hill’, ‘Rumm Pumm Po’, ‘Hansi He Hansi … Mil Toh Lein’, ‘Rukawat Ke Liye Khed Hai’, ‘Sab Ka Sapna Money Money’, and ‘Krishan Kanhaiya’.

“We got a little setback only because of the new designing of the sampling. That is why the shows we launched last year did not work and were taken off air,” states Kapoor.

Secondly, Sab introduced certain characters that have a broader appeal than only for urban audiences. However, at the same time the channel maintains that its forte is urban audiences.

“Whatever we are doing is not at the cost of urban but only trying to include some LC1 audience into it, because now urban and LC1 are counted as urban in BARC. Rural is separate, so we have to ensure that LC1 is taken care of, even if we want to focus only on urban ratings,” adds Kapoor.

He claims that on the back of this change, SAB has already started witnessing gain and that its urban viewership is now above 110 GRPs. “While we were at 130–150 GRP range in TAM, it had fallen in BARC. But the good part is the way we have recovered,” he says.

Kapoor explained that among the lower classifications, daily soaps are the release for the women. “As per our research, women across the lower classifications face certain kind of pressures, both economic and social. Therefore, the soaps are the catharsis for them and that comedy is not something that gives them that catharsis. In higher SECs, both men and women feel that their catharsis is suitably done by comedy, because their problems are more superficial and less intense.”

SAB continues to be see double-digit revenue growth. “There has been no impact on revenue as we continue to be a strong player in the urban markets,” says Kapoor.

SABTV

The channel still has a strong 8–10 pm band with older shows like ‘Baalveer’, ‘Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’, ‘Chidiyaghar’ and ‘Badi Door Se Aaye Hain’ attracting viewers’ eyeballs.

He agrees that the late night slots of 10 and 10:30 pm were weak, which the channel plugged with two sitcoms, ‘Saheb Biwi Aur Boss’ at 10 pm, which has been garnering positive response and upcoming show ‘Woh Teri Bhabhi Hai Pagle’ at 10:30 pm from 18 January.

Kapoor also finds comfort in the fact that on Sony Pal, which is showcasing repeats of SET and SAB shows, some SAB shows are hitting good numbers.

In fact, the biggest surprise for Kapoor is that a silent comedy like ‘Gutar Gu’ is rating well on Pal, which means that people in the rural areas are appreciating a comedy show that has no dialogue.

No more launches until end of IPL

Like every year, SAB will not launch any more shows now until the ninth season of the IPL is over. This in turn will give the shows time to stabilise and grow.

If there are any calls to be taken in the new fiscal, it will be done after the IPL, Kapoor clarifies.

“I am certain with shows like ‘Saheb Biwi Aur Boss’ and ‘Woh Teri Bhabhi Hai Pagle’, we will woo back all the rural audiences even in the BARC design,” he says.