From a channel that largely depended on re-runs of its old shows, SAB TV has come a long way by moving up to the fifth spot among general entertainment channels.
When Multi Screen Media (MSM), owners of Sony Entertainment Television, bought it, SAB had a gross rating point (GRP) of only 23. According to the latest TAM data, for the June 24-June 30 week, that has gone up to 120. Star Plus leads the pack with 266 GRPs, Colors is second with 233 and Zee and Sony are at third and fourth positions with 211 and 194 GRPs, respectively.
Prior to buyout from Sri Adhikari Brothers, SAB used to be a niche comedy channel. After the takeover, it was positioned as a GEC and expanded its bouquet to air other shows like Maahi Ve, Lo Karlo Baat and the youth-centric show – Left Right Left. The success of ‘Left Right Left’ helped the channel reposition itself as a youth channel, SAB has gone back to its forte – comedy — after the failure of its other youth shows.
“Our channel was originally youth-centric, targeting the 15-24 age-group. But we realised that people, falling in that bracket prefer to be on the internet than in front of the idiot box. So we rebranded the channel again for the third time as a family comedy channel and introduced light hearted entertainment,” says NP Singh, COO Multi-Screen Media.
Since the repositioning, there has been no looking back. “We have stuck to this formula and our channel has grown almost 500 per cent in terms of TRPs in the last two-and-a-half years. We have cemented our position in the light-hearted family entertainment and comedy genre,” Anuj Kapoor, executive VP and business head, SAB TV, says.
According to media analysts, the channel’s advertisement revenue has also risen exponentially to Rs 140-150 crore compared to Rs 25 crore four years ago. In fact, according to Kapoor, the channel’s revenue has risen 400 per cent over the past three years despite slowdown. The channel’s market share has risen to 11-12 percent from three-four per cent.
The flagship show ‘Tarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashma’ has consistently done well for the channel and completed over 900 episodes while Lapataganj and FIR has done over 800 and 700 episodes respectively. Other popular prime-time shows on the channel include Saajan Re Jhoot Mat Bolo, Chidiyaghar, Papad Pol, Mrs. Tendulkar, RK Laxman ki Duniya and the weekly silent comedy Gutar Gu.
Media planners and buyers say another reason for SAB’s popularity is that viewers are beginning to prefer comedies, given the gloomy economic environment and a deluge of sports, game shows and drama serials.
“The channel provides wholesome and clean fun. It targets all age group and is successful in catering to both genders. Most of the shows have joint family setups, linear storylines and believable characters,” says Shripad Kulkarni, CEO, Allied Media, the media-buying arm of Percept.
“We plan to increase the number of programming hours including shows on Saturdays. We will also start premiering telefilms, produced and created by SAB TV soon,” says Singh, explaining the strategy across the entire network. The flagship channel is doing well, due to the success of Kaun Banega Crorepati and Bade Acche Lagte Hain.
The network has launched two channels - music channel called Mix and sports channel Six in the last one year and acquired around 30 per cent stake in Telugu channel Maa TV. In addition, the parent Sony Pictures Television (a wholly-owned subsidiary of US - based Sony Pictures Entertainment), has bought 32 percent stake of Indian shareholders after years of negotiations. This will allow the network to aggressively ramp up and expand their operations in India.
Rivals, however, are not too sure about the channel’s success. A senior executive with a rival channel says with Star revamping Star One to Life Ok and introducing new shows, Life OK is also steadily climbing the GRP ladder with a heady combination of various genres including crime. With a GRP of 106, it is snapping on the heels of SAB.