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Sahara One searches for success recipe

MUMBAI: Subrata Roy-promoted Sahara India Pariwar, which has diverse business interests in finance, infrastructure & housing, manufacturing and retail, stepped into the media and entertainment sector. On 28 March 2000, Sahara One Media and Entertainment Limited launched the Hindi entertainment channel, Sahara One.

Sahara OneInitially launched as Sahara TV, the channel was renamed as Sahara Manoranjan in April 2003. The channel once again changed its name to Sahara One on 10 October 2004, with the launch of The First Indian Sangeet Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd’s other businesses includes SaharaOne Motion Pictures (a motion pictures production company), Filmy (a Hindi movie channel) and Firangi (a world television channel dubbed in Hindi).

Sahara One provides a mix of fiction and non-fiction entertainment shows,events, dramas, mythological series, reality shows, kids programming, thrillers, feature films and film-based programmes. Amongst the most popular shows on the channels were Woh Rehne Vali Mehelon Ki and Kittu Sab Jaanti Hai.

The channel adopted a programming strategy of presenting viewers with regressive storylines. As a part of which shows like Main Aisi Kyun Hoon, Doli Saja Ke and Ghar Ek Sapna were launched.

However, Bollywood star-led shows like Karishma – The Miracle of Destiny, Sridevi’s Malini Iyer and Raveena Tandon’s Sahib Biwi Gulam did not work in favour of the channel.

The channel also launched its most expensive game show, Mission Ek Crore, in 2005. It associated with FremantleMedia India to develop, produce and license the game show format for the Indian as well as the international marketplace. The concept of the show was developed by Sahara One’s in-house creative team.

For the first time, in June 2005, Sahara One aired movies prior to their theatrical release. This commenced with Hum Jo Keh Na Paaye.

Aiming to strengthen its kids band further, the channel tied up with Middle East’s kids entertainment brand Spacetoon Media Group in November 2005 to source animation and live action content. Sahara One was to telecast an hour of popular animation and live action series targeted at kids between the age group of 4-14 years, sourced from SpaceToon Media Group’s library throughout the week. The band was called SpaceToon Hour.

In 2006, Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd announced that Bennett Coleman & Company (BCCL), owner of the Times Group, proposed to acquire a 6 per cent stake in the company by subscribing to 11 lakh new equity shares at a price of Rs 344 per share aggregating a total of Rs 37.84 crore. With this investment, the valuation of Sahara One stood at around Rs 6.29 billion. The move was stated to be beneficial for the company as they were looking to expand their business to attain leadership in the entertainment arena.

Sahara One also signed a sales agreement with the religious channel Aastha in February, under which Sahara One would sell the advertising slots for Aastha TV and the two channels were to co-promote each other’s programmes. Sahara One would be responsible for all advertising sales of Aastha for its India feed.

The channel also bagged the cricket telecast rights for the India-England series and became and encrypted channel temporarily for the same.

Nimbus Communications Ltd, which won the media rights for India cricket from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), signed a deal with Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd. It also signed a pact with Doordarshan, the state-owned terrestrial free TV network, to broadcast all the matches. Post cricket, the channel’s viewership in prime time went up by 78 per cent.

In order to attain a new age look and match with the changing society, Sahara One Television changed its on-air channel identity and logo in March 2006. Inspired by the blooms of a lotus, the logo retained the company’s distinctive saffron and green stripes next to the company name Sahara. Its prime time programming at that time revolved around contemporary Indian women minus the saas-bahu sagas in shows like Woh Rehne Waali Mehlon Ki, Haare Kaanch Ki Choodiyan and Kituu Sabb Jantii Hai.

It also brought alive a new reality concept with Endemol India. The show, Superstars, provided Bollywood fans an opportunity to perform like their favourite star.

The channel had also launched an advertising campaign with the protagonists of its prime time shows. The tag lines of the campaigns were ‘Pati Parmeshwar ka time khatam’ and ‘Kit-pit saas ka time khatam.’ It aimed at hitting the stereotype saas-bahu sagas running on Indian television and reflecting their programming strategy that focused on women of today.

Taking the initiative forward, it further launched a contest exclusively targeted at women viewers called ‘Naya Rang-Cricketers Ke Sang.’ The winners of this were given a chance to attend the last five One-Day matches between India and England.

In April, Aircel Televentures acquired 14.98 per cent stake in Sahara One Media & Entertainment Ltd for Rs 1.20 billion. The company issued 32.25 lakh shares of Rs 10 each at Rs 372 per share to Aircel Televentures Ltd on preferential basis.

With a new channel logo and identity, the channel propelled itself further in the GEC space by launching several soaps with females in strong roles as protagonists. Some of these shows included Sati and Doli Saja Ke amongst others.

In 2007, the channel launched an innovative show in the reality genre titled Biggest Loser Jeetega, an adaptation of The Biggest Loser’ format owned by Reveille LLC. As per the format, each overweight contestant had to shed weight through diet and exercise. For every kilo lost per contestant, he or she won his team Rs 100000.

Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd appointed NDTV Media Ltd. as its exclusive advertising sales partner in India in April 2008. As part of the agreement, NDTV Media Ltd. was responsible for selling airtime for the Sahara One’s bouquet of entertainment channels.

During the same year, the channel also went in for a revamp and launched three fiction shows in its primetime weekday slot in the process. Besides that, it also launched a dance-based reality show Saas V/S Bahu.

Under the then CEO Avinash Kaul, Sahara One launched a new corporate identity with a new logo in 2010. The channel also launched a slew of seven shows to target non-metro based audiences.

In 2011, the channel announced a 30 per cent ad hike due to newer programming initiatives and an aggressive distribution drive. At that time the channel’s share stood at 2.9 per cent in the Hindi general entertainment channel space. Its mythology-based shows, Kahaani Chandrakanta Ki and Jai Jai Jai Bajrangbali, were also amongst the popular running programmes on the channel in the same year.

Launching a singing reality show Sur-Ksehtra in 2012, Sahara One decided to have Colors as its simulcast partner, making it the first occasion in India that two Hindi general entertainment channels from rival companies had joined hands to telecast a show together. It also marked the entry of Colors into the singing reality genre.

The show was produced by Sahara One in association with Gajendra Singh’s Saaibaba Telefilms, and was a cross-border musical battle between the Indian Team captained by Himesh Reshammiya, and the Pakistani Team captained by Atif Aslam. The jury comprised Asha Bhosle (India), Abida Parveen (Pakistan) and Runa Laila (Bangladesh).

In the same year the channel also brought back the horror band with two new fiction shows in 11 pm – midnight band. Haunted Nights aired at 11pm, while Yeh Kaali Kaali Raatein was at 11:30 pm. Apart from that, they were also airing repeats of another horror show, Raat Hone Ko Hai.

Aiming to highlight traditional issues and stir up a debate, the channel is launching a show, Aakhir Bahu Bhi Toh Beti Hee Hai. The show is expected to go on air in September 2013.