New Delhi: In a bid to win back some of the ground that it has lost to competitors in recent years, broadcaster Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd will ride the popularity of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to relaunch Sony Entertainment Television (SET), its flagship Hindi entertainment channel.
The second season of the successful twenty-over cricket league begins in South Africa on Saturday. Multi Screen Media has exclusive broadcast rights for IPL.
According to Danish Khan, marketing head of SET, the relaunch will include a new look as well as a new programming line-up. Beginning 25 May, the day after IPL gets over, SET will sport a new identity in terms of graphical imagery and visuals, as well as a new signature tune.
Fresh output soon: Marketing head of SET Danish Khan.
All this will be complemented with a new set of programmes that include four fiction-based shows and a celebrity-led reality show.
“Till now, we have been doing reasonably well on weekends with movies and talent shows such as Indian Idol and Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, but our weekdays and fiction-based programmes have not been much of a success,” said Khan.
“...there was a need to refresh our offerings,” he added.
In its new avatar, the channel will continue to have serials where there will be a protagonist in an Indian context, but there will be no stereotype shows based on the saas-bahu format, said Khan.
“Similarly, our talent shows will not be just song and dance like every other Hindi entertainment channel on air today, but we will look at other fields. Apart from differentiated content, viewers will find fresh faces and new themes in our programmes,” he said.
One of the shows lined-up for release has been tentatively titled Palampur Express. The show will be based on the story of a female athlete from a small town and will be produced by television (TV) personality and TV content producer Roshan Abbas, a new production partner for the channel.
The network had tried to divert the audiences it had grabbed for the first IPL season in 2008 by launching a big-ticket reality show titled Dus ka Dum. The show was hosted by Bollywood actor Salman Khan. It was on air for three months, but did not do too well.
This year, SET plans to repeat the strategy with more than one new show. Besides, the relaunch will be supported with a marketing campaign that goes on air from 18 April, a day before IPL takes off.
Khan refused to share the amount of money the company is spending to relaunch the channel. He, however, said: “it is safe to say that we will spend 100% more on marketing than what we did last year post-IPL with Dus ka Dum.”
An advertising executive close to the development said SET is expected to spend around Rs25 crore on its promotions alone. The channel’s new advertising campaign will feature a 45-second commercial sporting the tagline, “badal rahe hai aap, badal rahe hai hum,” (you’re changing and so are we). The ad will be aired frequently during IPL broadcast ad breaks.
SET’s brand relaunch comes at a time when the channel, though 14-years-old, was consistently losing ground in the Hindi entertainment space. A number two player till a few years ago, the channel slipped to number three slot and further down to number five and six in the past one year, with the entry of new competitors such as Colors, and NDTV Imagine.
“IPL is the only saving grace for the Sony network...they have had a bad run for the last couple of years,” said a media analyst who did not want to be named. “It is only natural that they (SET) plan their attempts at a recovery around the tournament.”
IPL indeed gave the channel much-needed viewership last year. According to TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd, the Mumbai-based television audience measurement agency—MAX— the channel airing IPL, became number one during the 44 days when the cricket league was being played, garnering an average viewership share of 4.8%.