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When Life is OK!
The Hindi entertainment channel is experimenting with content and differentiated programming strategy, and there has been more success than setbacks in the first six months, says Ajit Thakur, General Manager, Life OK

Launched in December 2011, Life OK wanted to stand out and therefore adopted strategies to achieve this aim. The programming strategy of 20-minute shows with seven days’ programming and ad breaks of four minutes are among the experiments. The channel is built around the motto of creating socially relevant programmes and focussing on the positives of life. While some aspects have changed, with 20-minute shows giving way to 30-minute episodes, the philosophy of the channel remains the same: cherish what life offers.

Ajit Thakur, General Manager, Life OK, in a chat with BestMediaInfo, shed some light on the changing strategy. He said, “We changed from 20-minute to 30-minute because of consumer feedback. The 16-minute content did not give them enough.”

The change was brought about in May, but the ad slot of four minutes remains constant. But this does not imply falling advertising revenues, insisted Thakur. “It helps us to remain premium and demand ad rates. And brands are paying that because of the healthy mix of male and female audiences we give them, apart from the fact that we delivered 100 GRP in no time.” The ad rates have increased an unprecedented three times in the six months since its launch.

What also helped the channel are the bankable properties such as Mahadev, which Thakur insists has a social message in the form of balance between life, duty and family, and also social appeal. He said, “Our show Dil Se Di Dua…Saubhagyavati Bhava is based on domestic violence. The show asked viewers to make paid calls and give feedback about what the female protagonist should do. We got over two lakh calls! For the NGO and the cause (Bell Bajao campaign) we were working with, it was a big thing. The on-air initiative was taken on-ground too. In UP, we did training camps for 18-24-year-old youth. We trained over a thousand people in 35 centres in UP.”

Even though shows like Sach ka Saamna and Sapnon ke bhanwar mein on the Madhumita Shukla murder case did not do well, Thakur is happy to experiment with such shows. He insisted, “The numbers (GRPs) keep changing, but the philosophy never changes. We have averaged close to 110-120 GRP.” It has thus differentiated itself from Star Plus, which is skewed more towards aspirations and dreams. The fluctuating GRPs, he said, “are a result of fluctuations in the shows and result of shift from 20-minute to 30-minute shows.”

The channel is now getting more weekend programming as well. After having experimented with reality shows like Sach ka Saamna and Savdhaan India, Life OK is set to introduce stand-up comedy in its weekend programming. Laugh India Laugh will be launched on July 15, Thakur informed. “The show will give a different take on socially relevant headlines, and will feature 22 new comedians from India and Pakistan. The first week will see it on-air at 10 PM every day to drive voting to select 12 contestants. Post this, the show will move to the weekend band,” Thakur disclosed. The show would have Shekhar Suman, Chunky Pandey and one surprise guest judging the show in the first week. The channel recently launched another comedy serial with JD Mathija’s Alaxmi.

Refraining from giving out more details, Thakur said Life OK will be launching another series on August 15, which would talk about what Independence means to the youth of today. Going forward, the channel would introduce three more in-house-produced shows in the next 12 months.

Aiming for breakeven in 2013, Thakur believes in showcasing realities of middle class families in the channel’s shows. And to reach out to them, Life OK does full-page ads about its programmes in vernacular newspapers, kids channels, Bollywood music channels and Hindi news channels.

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