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Big Magic eyeing metro audiences

MUMBAI: Launched in 2011 as a Hindi regional entertainment channel, Reliance Broadcast Network’s Big magic saw a rebirth when it changed its positioning to a light-hearted comedy channel in April 2014. The channel now aims to strengthen its foothold in the metro cities in 2015.

The first steps involved sorting out distribution issues last year itself when Big Magic hopped on to all the major direct-to-home (DTH) platforms and cable TV networks. Recently it also sealed a deal with Tata Sky, the only DTH player missing from its portfolio.

“We had been in talks with Tata Sky for a really long time and the deal has finally come through. This will give us 12 million additional viewers in the metros. While our core audience comes from the Hindi belts, we also want Delhi and Mumbai as it’s a great market for comedy,” Big Magic creative director Uditanshu Mehta said.

Mehta added that while the shows are mainly set in small towns, the channel also plans to do shows for the metro markets. However, they will not focus on metro audiences at the cost of alienating their inclusive core audiences. Presently, ‘Nadaaniyaan’ and ‘Mahisagar’ are its only shows set in the cities of Delhi and Ahmedabad.

Seasonal formats

In December 2014, Big Magic adopted a seasonal format for all its shows. Viewers have been seeing seasonal formats across shows like ‘Har Mushkil Ka Hal Akbar Birbal’, ‘Uff Yeh Nadaniyaan’, ‘Ajab Ghajab Ghar Jamai’ and ‘Mahi Sagar’.

Currently the channel has around 21 hours of original programming per week. Mehta explained that taking a break after a particular season of a format is not the norm at Big Magic. Instead, they hit the refresh button every 30–40 episodes or as long as the story can last and introduce new characters and storylines.

“The kids property called ‘Raavi and Magic Mobile’ is particularly consistent. We sort of moved away from our usual format and launched it like a weekday episodic show. But this is an exception rather than the rule,” he said.

The channel will soon launch an array of new shows. By the first week of March, the channel will have launched a new fiction show. This will be followed by another show in April.

In terms of non-fiction, Big Magic is coming up with a couple of shows that should be ready to launch between April and June.

“We will be launching at least one show in that quarter and the other one might follow in the next. The idea is to keep creating new and unique content that people want to watch,” said Mehta.

Aiming to be inclusive, the team is focusing on something that is fun for the entire family. Thus, there will be some family game show formats as well.

“Our viewers need a good destination for mature comedy because TV comedy until now has been associated with slapstick humour. Our shows have depth and every episode gives a sense of purpose. The message is not preachy but is a good take-away for people,” he stated.

One of the channel’s biggest properties is ‘Har Mushkil Ka Hal Akbar Birbal’. According to Big Magic chief marketing officer Shalini Gupta, the show contributes almost 50 per cent to the channel’s total GRPs (gross rating points).

Adding to that, Mehta stated that having one episode of 21 minutes implies ensuring that people watch it for at least 16–18 minutes. “’Akbar Birbal’, for example, has reached an average TSV [time spent per viewer] of 19–20 minutes if you look at HSM CS4+ markets.”