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81 GRPs and Rank No. 6 - what will it spell for SAB?
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<img style="float:left; margin: 0px 10px 0px 0px;" src="http://www.afaqs.com/news/news_story_grfx/2009/25735_1.jpg"/>After series of repositioning, SAB TV, the family comedy entertainment channel, has finally gained some grounds. The channel has garnered 81 GRPs in the latest week (Week 49) - the highest ever recorded by the channel. In Week 40, the channel had got only 64 GRPs (TAM Media Research, C&S, 4+ years, HSM).

Indeed, the success for the channel has come after a lot of changes and experimentation. Initially, after being taken over by Sony Entertainment Television (now Multi Screen Media) five years ago, SAB TV positioned itself as a regular GEC (general entertainment channel) offering a mix of daily soaps and reality shows. Next, it changed it positioning to being a youth channel before finally repositioning itself as a family comedy channel, specialising in dishing out light hearted comedies.

"The GEC positioning failed to work with our audience. As far as wooing the youth was concerned, apart from our immensely popular show, Left Right Left, none of the other shows delivered in this genre. Research and evaluation showed that people still looked at SAB TV as a platform that offered them a laugh or two. Thus, the logical step for us was to reposition ourselves as a channel that specialised in family comedy," explains Anooj Kapoor, business head, SAB TV.

He adds, "Over the past one and a half years, our strategy of introducing a new show almost every month appears to be paying dividends. The TAM ratings bear out the fact that we have been able to draw in viewers from Monday-Thursday by offering them new light hearted comedies through the week. Appointment viewing has worked in our favour."

This year, the channel had 11 new launches, including shows such as Maniben.com, Sonu Sweety, Yeh Chanda Kanoon hai, Shree Adi Manav and Lapataganj.

Kapoor is enthused that within two years, SAB has successfully made the move from being the No. 8 player in the television space, placed behind STAR One and Sahara One, to becoming the No. 6 player, leaving the other two channels far behind.

With encouraging TAM ratings, the channel is confident that it's moving in the right direction. Analysing its performance, R Venkatasubramanian, vice-president, Lintas Media Group, says, "In the past, SAB TV clocked 30-35 GRPs. So it has covered a long distance by that yardstick. The channel was never in the reckoning for being considered with first rung GECs; even now, it will continue to be clubbed and counted along with second rung channels."

However, the change will be reflected in the fact that SAB TV will be the definite first choice of media planners and advertisers when it comes to choosing a platform amongst the secondary set of channels, including others such as STAR One and Sahara One.

SAB TV's best bet has proved to be Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chasma, which, according to TAM data, delivers an average TVR of 2.4. In Week 49, the show registered a TVR of 2.84. Another popular show, Lapataganj, launched in October this year, records an average TVR of 0.81.

Venkatasubramanian adds that SAB TV exhibits an over-dependence on one show. For a channel to be really successful, it has to have at least four-five shows delivering consistent ratings. However, the channel has used the show to its advantage to run promotions of its other properties and encourage sampling.

To cash in on the successful properties, the channel has started airing repeat telecasts of Lapataganj since November. The shows are telecast every Sunday from 12 noon- 2 pm, with four repeats in a day. For the past few weeks, the channel is also airing Bollywood classics such as Dharamveer, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Chupke Chupke and Yaadon Ki Baaraat. The movies are aired every Sunday at 8 pm.

Sejal Shah, vice-president, West and South, India Media Exchange, says, "Having a three hour long movie is the safest bet to increase numbers as a channel stands to hook in viewers for a substantial time period with a decent title. Airing movies or having a one show wonder, as is the case with SAB TV, does not give a real measure of the progress of a channel."

Although the channel is flaunting encouraging numbers, it still cannot be considered in the premium GEC league, where players are clocking 250 plus GRPs. "All that the 80 GRPs do for SAB TV is that it will make the industry sit up and take note of its performance. There will be no immediate favourable shift towards the channel - simply because one allows a player a couple of months to perform. The industry observes if the channel has a planned content strategy in place. In SAB TV's case, this planning seems to be missing," Shah adds.

Media experts say that before putting one's bet on the basis of the success of a single show, as is the case with SAB TV, one looks into factors such as the share and contribution of the single high-performing show to the channel. Right now, the channel's programming basket looks too focused and lacks choices.

SAB TV is pinning its hope on another big property, Sajan Re Jhoot Mat Bolo, produced by Vipul D Shah's production house, Optimystix. Shah has delivered successful shows such as six seasons of Comedy Circus for the channel.

The new show, Sajan Re Jhoot Mat Bolo, is a story that takes an interesting look at the art of lying and its humorous consequences, at times with serious repercussions for the individual, his family and the society.
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