Star rebranding its youth channel to raise mass appeal
Star India Pvt. Ltd is overhauling the programming of Star One, its seven-year-old urban youth channel, to draw more viewers from small towns and villages
Abhilasha Ojha & Anushree Chandran
New Delhi/Mumbai: Star India Pvt. Ltd, the Rupert Murdoch-owned television network which owns the nation's No. 1 Hindi channel Star Plus, is overhauling the programming of Star One, its seven-year-old urban youth channel, to draw more viewers from small towns and villages.
"The channel (Star One) definitely needs more engaging content and hence a 100% overhauling is essential," said Sanjay Gupta, chief operating officer at Star India. "We don't want to take any quick-fix measures but, yes, there are plans in place."
Gupta said the channel will be rebranded and repositioned, but did not provide more details.
The channel will be rebranded in the next three to four months by Ogilvy and Mather India Pvt. Ltd, the advertising agency that's working on its redesign. Piyush Pandey, executive chairman, Ogilvy and Mather India said it would be premature to comment on the plans. However, media buyers, who declined to be identified, said the broadcaster plans to spend between Rs. 15 crore and Rs. 20 crore on the revamp.
Conversations with production houses that are creating programmes for the new channel and buyers at media agencies which are familiar with the development said that the channel will become more mass-oriented.
An executive at a production company making a show for the rebranded Star's One channel said executives are looking at the kind of soaps that Colors, the Hindi channel from Viacom 18 Pvt. Ltd telecasts. "It wants the content to be mass-focused towards semi-rural and rural markets. So, small town protagonists inspired by Balika Vadhu's Anandi, for instance, will be seen on the channel. They also talked of introducing regional programming (such as Gujarati content) during some hours," said this executive who requested anonymity for reasons of confidentiality.
Sunjoy Waddhwa, chairman, Sphere Origins Pvt. Ltd, the man behind Balika Vadhu, the serial running for the past three years on Colors, said he would meet Star executives next week to pitch the concept of a fiction serial. He refused to elaborate on the content but confirmed that Star One was eyeing a relaunch of sorts.
For the past one year Star Plus (its latest GRPs is 334) has been a stable market leader and has maintained a significant 100 gross rating points (GRP) margin over the No. 2 channel, Colors. For the record, Colors's GRP is 232. Star One's current GRP is just 30 and it ranks No. 8 among the 11 GECs that TAM Media Research measures on a weekly basis. GRP is the total of television rating points, or TRPs, which is the percentage of people watching a programme at a given time.
Media buyers reckon that an all-new Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) from Star may attempt to occupy a position in that gap and mop up more advertising. Raj Nayak, chief executive of Colors, the GEC from Viacom 18 Pvt. Ltd, declined to comment.
Currently, Star Plus makes Rs. 900 crore a year, Colors an estimated Rs. 650 crore and Star One roughly Rs. 80-90 crore, according to media buying agencies. The advertising revenue figures are estimates provided by the advertising industry and not confirmed by the broadcasters.
According to Mona Jain, chief operating officer of VivaKi Exchange, the media buying agency for Publicis Groupe SA, it makes sense for the channel to relaunch in a new avatar, become more mass-based and fight for the second spot that's currently held by Colors. "The channel targets the youth currently and needs to be mass-based. With Star Plus already in the leadership position, Star One as a formidable, alternative GEC will ensure that more advertising revenue can be garnered within the company," said Jain.
Priti Murthy, national director (Insights), Maxus GroupM India Pvt. Ltd also said that it makes sense for Star One to consolidate its position in the GEC space. "If 25% of the TV viewing population used to watch general entertainment a couple of years back, now its 36-37%. The demand for general entertainment content is increasing, so it would help if Star One comes in as a strong second channel," said Murthy.
Joy Chakraborty, chief revenue officer and COO (niche channels), Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) said Star One is currently way below the radar of the top three channels, including Star, Zee TV and Colors. "Any kind of change would be good for the channel. It will be good for the general entertainment genre as a whole and will grow the market further," said Chakraborthy. However, another senior executive from another GEC that's struggling to keep pace said that the Star One's revamp could challenge them further. "Star Plus is a strong brand name already and now it's positioning to grab the No. 2 spot too. It'll be tough for us," he said. He refused to be identified for the story.