Columnist – ZEEL COO & Zee TV business head Nitin Vaidya
MUMBAI: The beginning of the year 2009 was a huge challenge for us. We took up this challenge with great enthusiasm, confidence and a focused approach. Our aim was to achieve great heights with concentrated efforts without making any tall claims.
Many of our shows gave us positive results in 2009. Two major properties by us last year were, ‘Choti Bahu’ and ‘Lux Dance India Dance’.
‘Choti Bahu’ proved to be a phenomenal success, redefining the primetime band as 7.30 PM and reigning over it, ever since. But this is not the first time; we had also launched ‘Sindoor’ at the same time in 2006.
Another remarkable success in the non-fiction genre was ‘Lux Dance India Dance’. Unlike other star-studded shows on competing channels, Lux Dance Indian Dance talks about excellence of talent and creates a platform for that talent.
We always believed that television creates its own stars. For ‘Lux Dance India Dance’ we adopted our 17-year old formula that stemmed from our longest running show – ‘SaReGaMaPa’ which makes stars out of common people with exceptional talent. We began our journey to 11 cities, scouting talent, and came back with some fabulous dancers rather than encouraging celebrity participation in reality shows that look fabricated.
The results were for all of us to see with ‘Lux Dance India Dance’ becoming the biggest dance reality show growing in a profitable way rather than being an unviable business model. Our formats were copied and launched on other channels and we all know what happened to them.
Indian television also saw an interesting turning point with a different kind of story-telling that emerged with newer shows. Our competition launched ‘Balika Vadhu’ which has an excellent story and brought in an all-new flavour to the primetime. We also launched ‘Agle Janam Mohe Bitiyann Hi Kijo’ which highlighted the social evil of women-trafficking very strongly and forcefully. This social cause backed up with effective story-telling made ‘Laali’ a household name.
Another of our shows from Balaji Telefilms, ‘Pavitra Rishta’, was a great hit amongst the viewers, with the show now becoming the No. 1 fiction show across GECs. The first ever show on satellite television to be shot completely in Delhi, ’12/24 Karol Bagh’ was launched by us.
Two other shows that immediately struck a chord with the viewers are ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ and ‘Aap Ki Antrara’. Through ‘Aap Ki Antara’, we have aimed at creating public awareness about autism & sensitizing the society towards this issue. More than the commercial success of the show, the kind of recognition and respect that it has garnered for itself and the channel, is what we take immense pride in.
Similarly ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ was another path-breaker. In times where historical shows haven’t really done well on television, ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ has created its own loyal audience and has been delivering consistently ever since its launch. The success of the show has taken it beyond HSM (Hindi speaking market) with the dubbed version being telecast on our regional channels.
The pressure from the competitors was very high with the who’s who of Bollywood anchoring some reality show or another across channels. During such times, we decided to introduce Afsha & Dhairya, the youngest hosts on any reality show thus far. Result? They became the most loved hosts on Indian television.
Recession forced us to take some innovative decisions which surely opened up new avenues that went on to become great successes. Another show that got us directly connected to the audiences is ‘Ghar Ghar Mein’, a low cost, simple game show with families that allowed cameras directly into their homes. ‘Ghar Ghar Mein’ is the only show on television today which establishes a direct relationship with the viewers. So we see that it’s not the money that matters but the idea that conquers!
Hence with subjects ranging from those of historical importance to social awareness to differential talent, Zee TV’s shows have been appreciated and acknowledged across the nation. Each of our new properties yielded results and there was no show that had to be withdrawn during the year.
Steps taken by Zee TV were consciously working towards not just being No. 1 on GRPs but also achieving high profitability. And to achieve profitability, we didn’t want to compromise on our quality at any cost. We didn’t succumb to unnecessary pressures of investing money in film stars or creating controversial content. We wanted to be on the top on our terms. It’s a matter of great pride that the No. 1 fiction (Pavitra Rishta) and non-fiction show (Lux Dance India Dance) across GECs, belong to Zee TV.
It was a year that started with great challenges that led to hope and thereby a promise to ourselves – to top the charts. The real joy and excitement came when we became No. 1 for a week after almost a decade. The challenge this year would be to maintain the high performance and offer exclusive content to our viewers.
Another challenge that holds great value today is the digital scenario which is changing television consumption patterns. On one end of the spectrum is mass consumption pattern of television that is measured by GRPs and on the other is the evolving audience that is migrating from analogue to digital.
Content and communication to match audiences’ sensibilities is the emerging reality of the digital era. The growth of DTH is phenomenal. It has surpassed the number of declared analogue subscribers and will continue to grow further. Hence concentrating on the existing analogue viewers alongwith the ever-growing DTH viewers will be our core focus in the coming years.
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