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&TV’s content play

MUMBAI: Next week by this time, the Hindi general entertainment genre will have a new kid on the block in the form of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd’s (ZEEL) &TV.

ZEEL, which has been planning the launch of &TV for some time, took time to firm up its strategy, be it content, distribution, or marketing.

&TV LogoNow, the channel has already sorted the distribution puzzle by stitching placement deals with majority of cable and DTH players. In an earlier interaction, ZEEL MD & CEO Punit Goenka had said that the channel would be well distributed from Day 1 and the test signals are running on Hathway Cable (Channel No. 8), DEN Networks (Ch 101 in Mumbai, 103 in UP and 106 in other parts), Siti Cable (Ch No. 114), Incable (Ch No. 108), GTPL (Ch No. 6) and 7 Star (Ch No. 1), as well as on DTH players including Dish TV (EPG No. 107), Tata Sky (115), Videocon d2h (115) and Reliance Digital TV (215).

The channel is being extensively promoted on TV, print and out-of-home media. Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, who is anchoring the channel’s flagship game show ‘India Poochega – Sabse Shaana Kaun?’ is visible on multiple hoardings across the Hindi-speaking markets and on leading newspapers apart from the ZEEL network channels, as well as during the India team World Cup matches on Star Sports for maximum impact.

With the two key aspects of marketing and distribution put in place, TelevisionPost.com analysed the content plan of the channel based on the shows already unveiled.

The content push

Shahrukh Khan &TVThe channel is going all out and seems to be spending top dollars not just on promotions and placement, but also on content. Unlike Zee TV, &TV has roped in Bollywood’ biggest Khan, SRK, and is banking big on the star to get immediate sampling through ‘Sabse Shaana Kaun’ (SSK).

With a content plan of over 20 hours of original programming per week, &TV also announced five fiction shows—‘Razia Sultan’ (7.30 pm), Gangaa’ (8.30 pm), Begusarai’ (10 pm), ‘Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hai’ and ‘Badii Devrani’. While it has announced time slots for three of the fiction shows, the remaining two are still kept under wraps.

‘Sabse Shaana Kaun’ (SSK): Clearly the tent-pole property of the channel, it is being used as a disruptive tool to get major eyeballs at 9 pm. The majority of Hindi GECs have fiction properties at 9 pm from Monday to Friday, and the channel is trying to disrupt the viewing pattern with a high-decibel game show.

Apart from content, the show will double up as a launch pad for the channel, much like what ‘Khataron Ke Khiladi’ had done for Colors at its launch in 2008 at 10 pm slot.

The strategy of putting a show like ‘SSK’ may guarantee the channel initial eyeballs. However, it will have to build momentum with other shows.

Razia Sultan‘SSK’ will be competing, albeit for a brief period, with Star Plus’ ‘Diya Aur baati Hum’ and ‘Yeh Rishta Kya Kahlata Hai’ (9–10 pm), Colors’ historical show ‘Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat’, and sister channel Zee TV’s ‘Kumkum Bhagya’ and ‘Qubool Hai’.

“In terms of timing, 9 pm is the slot which has the highest put for the GECs. While fiction works at 9 pm best, Colors has been running ‘Bigg Boss’ more or less successfully in this slot for some years now,” said a programming executive of a GEC.

‘Razia Sultan’: After ‘SSK’, one of the highly promoted shows from the channel is its historical show ‘Razia Sultan’, which will chronicle the life of the first and only woman emperor of the Delhi Sultanate.

With grand sets and high production value, the channel has tried to give its viewers an authentic peek into the royal kingdom. However, it will be pitted against one of the top-rated shows on Star Plus, ‘Yeh Hain Mohhabbatein’ at the early primetime slot of 7.30 pm. Colors’ long-running ‘Sasural Simar Ka’ is also one of the better performers at the slot, while Zee TV has a relatively new show ‘Hello Pratibha’.

GangaaMedia observers feel that the channel has tried to bring something different at the early primetime despite its big budget. In the past, most GECs have kept their big-budget or historical shows between 8 and 10 pm.

‘Gangaa’: ‘Gangaa’, at 8:30 pm, is an inspiring story of a young girl and her zest to live life to the fullest. The protagonist questions the status quo and is innocently opinionated. She is a spirited soul and has the will to survive. While the channel is taking up the social issue with the protagonist as a child widow, it will be competing directly with ‘Udaan’ on rival channel Colors, which takes up the issue of bonded labour.

Other shows at 8.30 pm include Zee TV’s ‘Jamai Raja’ and SAB’s flagship property, ‘Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma’.

Beguarai‘Begusarai’: The channel will air this rustic show, with lots of quirky characters and shot in the backdrop of Bihar, at 10 pm. The rationale is it will attract male audiences. ‘Begusarai’ will compete with Star Plus’ ‘Everest’, Colors’ ‘Meri Aashiqui Tum Se Hi’, Zee TV’s new show, ‘Satrangi Sasural’, Sony Entertainment Television’s (SET) ‘Maharana Pratap’, and comedy shows like Life OK’s ‘Comedy Classes’ and SAB’s ‘Yum Hain Hum’.

Besides, the channel will launch a comedy show, ‘Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hai’, and a family drama, ‘Badii Devrani’, for which date and time slots are yet to be announced.

Goenka has already announced that the channel will have a strong mix of fiction and non-fiction content along with marquee events and movies.