Slated to go on air from September 1, the move for a female-centric channel has got a thumbs-up from the media fraternity who call it a smart “flanking strategy”

Sarmistha Neogy | Mumbai | August 8, 2014

Sony-Pal-LogoMulti-Screen Media (MSM) yesterday formally announced the launch of Sony Pal, its third Hindi General Entertainment (GEC) channel which promises to celebrate the joys of womanhood through its women-centric programming and live the various moments of her life. With actress Juhi Chawla as the face of the channel, it is slated to go on air from September 1, 2014. Sony Pal comes with the tagline ‘Yeh Pal Hamara Hai’ and the bright colours in the channel logo speak of the positivity it reflects.

N P Singh

N P Singh

NP Singh, Chief Executive Officer, MSM, said, “The channel’s core TG will be women across India in the age bracket of 15-34 years in B, C, D and E markets. Sony Pal will complement the other two GECs in our bouquet and will appeal to women who are looking for differentiated content. We are adopting a market segmented strategy with Sony, Sab and Sony Pal and will appeal as a network to the advertisers. I am seeking the moon as I am very confident with the content and the positioning of the channel. But it is not about what I expect; it is about what the viewers’ demand and if we can meet them.”

Anooj Kapoor

Anooj Kapoor

Commenting on the channel’s programming strategy, Anooj Kapoor, Senior EVP and Business Head, Sony Pal and Sab TV, said, “Sony Pal’s strong characteristic is ‘positivity’ and I feel that this alone has the strength to differentiate it from the other channels in this space. With our tagline ‘Yeh Pal Hamara Hai’, we are directly positioning ourselves in a personal way to the housewives or the female GEC viewers. Through the insights available from the various researches done by us, we actually got the idea on how to position the channel. Sony Pal will thus showcase content which will empower women to embrace the positive aspects of modern India while preserving her traditional responsibilities, familial togetherness and bonding.”

Juhi Chawla and Raveena Tandon

Juhi Chawla and Raveena Tandon

Initially, the channel starts with three hours of original content from Monday to Saturday and two hours on Sunday. Nine exciting shows have been lined up, with Sundays being occupied by programmes like ‘Simply Baatein’ which is a talk show with actress Raveena Tandon and a game show named ‘Dil Hai Chhotasa Chhoti Si Asha’ with women contestants.

After a month of its launch, the original content during weekdays will increase to three and a half hours each day. ‘Ek Rishta Aisa Bhi’ which talks about the ‘jija-saali’ relationship, ‘Singhasan Battisi’ which is a period drama based on the story of the throne of Raja Vikramaditya with 32 angel statues ,‘Pia Basanti Re’ who believes that status and class come not from wealth but through one’s capability and attitude, are some of the channel’s weekday properties.

The producers on board are Balaji Telefilms, GR8 Entertainment, SOL Production, Shashi Sumeet Productions, Miloni Films, Creative Eye and Sphere Origins.

The channels will kick-start its five-week long marketing campaign across all mediums from August 10. Some unique activities like forming women’s clubs will be done across HSM in order to celebrate womanhood and positivity in her life.

Why another GEC from MSM? We ask the media honchos

Ashish Bhasin

Ashish Bhasin

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO, South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, said, “It is easy for a bouquet to launch a new channel as it is cost-effective because the entire infrastructure is already there. Whether the channel will work or not totally depends on the content. There is a very simple equation which works for every channel: ‘Eyeballs follow good content and advertisers follow eyeballs, therefore content is the king’. We have seen that sometimes the initial programming line-up of a channel is quite strong, but the content sustainability slows down after a few months. However, coming from the MSM bouquet, I am sure it will stand to good content.”

Anita Nayyar

Anita Nayyar

Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group, India and South Asia, commented, “The probable reason for the launch of this new channel could be that both the GECs – Sony and SAB – are more male skewed and metro focussed. Even though at this moment there is a clutter in the GEC space, it might not be a bad idea from MSM’s side to launch a new channel which will look at gaining the female eyeballs and also with a somewhat small town focus.”

Sudha Natrajan

Sudha Natrajan

Giving a slightly different angle, Raghav Subramanian and Sudha Natrajan, Founders of consulting firm TMC, said, “The Hindi GEC space which comprises 11 channels including Zindagi being the latest to join, accounts for 39 per cent of TV viewership in the overall Hindi belt of the TAM base target group. In recent years TV viewership and GEC viewership have become fragmented, i.e., there is very little gap between the No. 1 and the No. 3 player in terms of viewership share. Therefore, all leading broadcasters are trying to either flank their main brand, like Life OK as support to Star Plus or SAB as support to Sony.”

Raghav Subramanian

Raghav Subramanian

They further said, “Sony has always been known to be strong in the West and relatively weak in the North. The Hindi belt has become critical for most advertisers and viewership of TV is growing. Therefore, Sony’s move to launch a third channel in this space to expand its share of the GEC pie is not surprising. This is clearly a move by Sony to increase its markets by targeting women and possibly gain acceptance in states such as UP. The last week’s (Week 30) average viewership trend shows no change in the ranking of channels. Launching new channel therefore is to be seen as a strategic move for the long term. This channel is clearly targeted at UP as MSM is weakest in UP; therefore, two out of the nine shows are centred on Muslim families based in UP besides other forms of customisation for this state. SAB and Sony have a much defused audience profile, MSM probably wants to focus on the female demographics more clearly through Pal, so as to get more revenue out of the staple FMCG budgets which accounts for a whopping 30 per cent of the overall advertising spends in India.”

On being asked how the channel will do, Subramanian and Natrajan pointed out that Sony’s track record with female focussed soaps has not been consistent over the years, apart from a couple of successes like ‘Jassi Jaise Koi Nahi’ and ‘Bade Ache Lagte Hain’. So, they will prefer to follow a policy of wait and watch for the time being and see how it catches up in this space.

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