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Real refutes rumours of shutdown; in introspective mode
On the launch of Real, expectations were sky high from the general entertainment channel, which was the result of a joint venture of the global media conglomerate, Turner and one of the leading production houses in India, Miditech. The proposition was novel too. But as is evident, Real is far from making a splash. And now, the channel has no fresh content on-air.

From the first week of July, the channel has been telecasting repeats of its shows, along with music and movies. All shows that were on-air concluded one after the other. The first to end was Sitaron Ko Choona Hai on June 26, followed by the channel's flagship reality show, Sarkaar Ki Duniya, which ended on July 3. The fiction shows, Hindi Hai Hum, Vicky Ki Taxi, Ninja Pandav and Namak Haraam ended in the first week of July.

Real executives say that the shows had finite storylines and came to an end gradually.

Though the channel was targeted at the progressive Indian, it failed to create a following. When Real was launched, the channel had 9 GRPs (Week 10) and as per the latest TAM report (Week 28), it has garnered 10 GRPs (C&S 4+, HSM).

So much so, that the industry is abuzz with rumours that Real will soon shut shop.

The rumours are very strong as the memories of what happened to 9X are still fresh. The high profile general entertainment channel has been surviving only on repeat content for the last 8-9 months and there is no sign of revival. The industry slotted Real in the same pattern.
The channel is definitely not investing in content right now. Advertisers have got no intimation from the channel, but they believe that Real is amidst reconsideration and evaluation.

"The channel has completed the cycle of its reality shows early this month. Also, as planned, our fiction shows came to their logical end. Now, there is a certain amount of rescheduling and a mix of movies, music and repeats, as required for any 24-hour TV channel. We are coming up with new serials and shows and will update you shortly," says Sunil Lulla, director, Real Global Broadcasting.
Media analysts are of the view that the buzz around the brand was low right from the start. A Delhi-based media planner says that their proposition of real people, real stories, was not supported with active and engrossing content.

"Real was launched at a time when IPL was just setting in. Moreover, channels had already started with a fresh programming approach," observes Mona Jain, head, strategic investments, India Media Exchange.

So, there was little reason for viewers to switch to a new channel that did not boast of a compelling line-up. Moreover, not much budget was allocated to marketing.

Others find that not just the content; even the look of the channel is not appealing. Shubha George, managing director, mediaedge:cia believes that the concept of 'being real' was stretched too far. "The shows on the channel lacked glossiness. It was too real to be entertaining, as the audiences were used to a certain appeal and packaging," she says.
Even its most hyped show, Sarkaar Ki Duniya could not hook audiences, because it lacked the shock element. While the idea of launching a channel for progressive audiences was good, the execution wasn't. "The intent might have been right, but the manner was wrong," she adds.

However, the channel is taking all in its stride and claims to have close to 24 million viewers already. "For sure, we did not get off to the start we aimed for. We are reviewing performance, as we do for all our other businesses, and we remain committed to do what is best for the business and for the Turner-Alva partnership," Lulla states.

The channel is busy planning the next step in its evolution. "We pride ourselves on the relationship we have with our viewers and we value all of the feedback we have received. It's safe to say that Real will continue to deliver a distinct and varied range of programming that will engage and excite viewers across India," Lulla affirms.
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