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Sony to revamp its prime time content

LiveMint logoLiveMint 11-06-2014 Vidhi Choudhary

New Delhi: Sony Entertainment Television (SET), the flagship channel of broadcaster Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, is planning to revamp its prime time content with seven new fiction shows, including one with actor Amitabh Bachchan, in a bid to tackle declining viewership.

“We have on our agenda the primary objective of re-engineering Sony to cater to a new environment. We have commissioned new shows that cater to a changing audience. We have six new shows with producers in addition to Yudh, Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) and Indian Idol, so it’s nine new shows that are on the floor right now,” said Nachiket Pantvaidya, senior executive vice- president and business head at Sony Entertainment.

The channel has seen a 60% decline in viewership over the past nine quarters.

“For a couple of quarters now we have been seeing a decline in trend in terms of viewership. In our analysis, the loss of viewership has been primarily loyal viewers of Sony Entertainment channel. To bring back the loyal viewers we have to make these properties relevant to the times,” Pantvaidya said. “To make our shows contemporary, to make the characters change with time, that will ensure our loyal viewers stay with us,” he said.

The mandate behind shows like Yudh, which is co-produced by Bachchan’s production company Saraswati Creations, is to attract new viewership.

“We are looking at revamping our entire prime time and we have commissioned six shows already. These are daily strips that have gone into production and in the next few months in a phased manner you’ll see them being launched,” said N.P Singh, chief executive at Multi Screen Media.

“We are trying to get content which is family-inclusive. These shows will also fall in the same bracket,” he added.

Yudh, which will go on air in July, has 20 hours of programming spread across 5-6 weeks.

“Content on television is getting revolutionized, 24 (a show based on an American series and starring Anil Kapoor) which aired on Colors was the first step in this direction. With Yudh we will see another leap forward towards premium content and the popularity it generates,” said Dhruv Jha, general manager (content and experiences), IPG Mediabrands India.

Brands like Cadbury and OLX are advertising sponsors for the show while 4-5 other brands are expected to close deals this month.

“We are in the process of selling. The show is going to be launched sometime next month. We haven’t decided a date yet. We are treating it as a marquee tent pole show for us,” Singh said. “The response from the advertisers has been very strong and encouraging so far.”

The company is also planning to expand its network of channels with the launch of another entertainment channel in the next few months. The company operates nine channels at present which include Sony PIX, Sony SIX and AXN.

“Last month we launched a new movie channel called MAX 2 and the next channel we will launch will be a general entertainment channel. We strongly believe there is an unserved segment of viewership that is available for television and we are trying to create content for this segment,” said Pantvaidya.

The media company is also betting big on sports.

“Sports is an important part of our overall strategy. Sports attracts a lot of youth and we want youth on our networks. In future if we acquire more sports rights it would mean that we need another platform then we will launch a second sports channel,” he said.

Sony SIX has rights to sports events including the Indian Premier League, the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups and Six-Nation Rugby, he said.

“With the rights that we have today one platform is enough to showcase those rights for our viewers,” Pantvaidya added.

“In future if we acquire more rights and that necessitates the launch of another platform we’ll do that,” he said.

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