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Every time we put a programme on air, it is a risk: Raj Nayak

Colors has been on a roll. Supernatural show ‘Naagin’ reigned the Hindi GEC space since its launch. The show recently wrapped up and will return for Season 2 some time in October this (as per media reports). Continuing with its seasonal plans, Colors is gearing up for Season 2 of the Indian adaptation of hit espionage thriller, ‘24’.

The channel has replaced ‘Naagin’ with another supernatural/ fantasy show, ‘Kawach’, which went on air last week. The channel is also firming up its plans for the weekdays and weekends.

Raj Nayak, CEO, Colors, speaks with AdGully on facing the tough competition in the Hindi GEC space, building brand equity, plans around seasonal shows, and more. Excerpts:

In today’s highly competitive market, how challenging is to build a strong brand equity?
Building brand equity is difficult. It has been difficult all along and especially now, when there are so many channels lined up for the same viewers and there is so much of fragmentation. It is extremely tough, but what happens is once you have built a relationship with your viewer and there’s a certain expectation that he or she has from the channel, there’s a connect that happens. It’s like you and your kiranawala – there might be a Nature’s Basket coming up next door, but you will still prefer your kiranawala even though you might go and shop at Nature’s Basket once in a while. As long as we continue to give the viewers what they want and fill their appetite, the connect remains strong. I think at Colors, where because we have been giving people something new all the time, that is also a challenge for us because people expect something new from us all the time – be it the viewers or the media. Agar Colors kar raha hai toh kuch hatke hi karega (If Colors is doing it, then it will be something different) is the thought. That has now become our personality and we try very hard to live up to this personality.

Supernatural/ fantasy storylines are currently on the upswing. Do you see this as a trend that is here to stay or will it fade away after some time?
Let me put it this way, we are a country of herd mentality – that’s the truth in everything that we do. For example, if somebody opens a restaurant in say June and it becomes success, like there’s one below my house, you’ll find another restaurant coming up next door. When something becomes a success, everyone wants to do the same thing – it’s true not just in television but in movies as well, because people feel that if it’s a tried and successful formula, then why not try it. I don’t think there is any harm in it – sometimes both are successful and sometimes some may fail.

What are the programme risks that you have taken in the last six months?
Every time we put a programme on air, it is a risk. But at the same time, we don’t put a programme on air on whims and fancies, there’s a lot of consumer insight and research behind it. And of course, there is the gut feel of the programming head and experience all combined together. But there is one point, every time we do something, we ask ourselves – How is it different? What is new and why would a viewer to watch it? If you see any of our shows, such as ‘Shakti’, though the story has just begun but as it involves you instantly. It is a show that has never been done in television and the storyline is completely different. Same is the case with ‘Kawach’, which is a completely new show and nobody has done something like this before. Similarly, ‘Naagin’. So for us, the trick is while we continue to do some of the routine shows, the idea is how every time we launch a new show we are going to make it different. That is something where we try to push the envelope and see how it works.

With the separate BARC data for urban and rural, when can we expect Colors to come up with separate urban-rural selling?
I am seriously considering selling rural and urban separately. The technology exists and we see no reason why we shouldn’t do it, because we believe that advertisers will also be happy because they can then target rural and urban markets separately, and we can charge them separately for it.

What are your focus areas in your weekend and weekday strategies?
If you see our weekdays, we have fiction starting from 6.00 pm going up to 11.30 pm. Every year we bring in ‘Bigg Boss’ at the 9.00 pm slot in September-October. We have opened up 8.00 pm slot for seasonal shows. Hopefully based on the success we will open up another slot, because if one slot starts doing well then we’ll open up another slot. But the intent is that as a leader, we want to slowly move towards seasonal programming even on weekdays at some point in time.

Coming to the 6.00 pm slot, you have moved the long running show ‘Balika Vadhu’ to this time slot. With this shift to an earlier time slot and with the lead character Anandi gone, are you planning to wrap up the show anytime soon?
Not at all! ‘Balika Vadhu’ is one of our strong franchises and if you see the new story and the new casting, it has been well received. So there are no such plans to wrap up the show.

The concept of seasonal Hindi fiction shows is relatively new, even though it has been a long adopted format in the English GEC space...
We are still evolving as a nation. The satellite television industry started in India in 1992, so this industry is just 24 years old and is evolving. We had earlier experimented with a seasonal show called ‘Na Bole Tum’ on weekdays, which ran for two seasons. I would like to be a part of the journey where I we can see a day when we take a break while the show’s rating is very high and then bring in Season 2. I hope that at Colors we will be in a position to make that decision.

How did ‘24’ come to Colors?
I had heard that Anil Kapoor was trying to bring ‘24’ to India and he was in discussions with various other broadcasters. So I thought that it should be on Colors because I have been a great fan of Jack Bauer (the main protagonist of ‘24’). I have watched the international show, I have watched almost all the seasons. So I met Anil – you know sometimes when you meet somebody there’s a chemistry, there’s magic – I think that’s what happened between the two of us. I think it took us just 20 minutes to shake hands and rest is history. Season 1 was tough because we were doing it for the first time in India and hopefully we have learned a lot from it and Season 2 plans to be bigger.

You are gearing up to soon launch Season 2 of ‘24’. The show, in its first season, had attracted the South Mumbai-South Delhi audience, which usually doesn’t watch Hindi shows...
But it still happens with all the comedy shows. What happens is that half of it is perception labels. It is true that if you see one kind of audience, there was a skew towards us on ‘24’, it is also because most them were tuned in to the concept of ‘24’ as they had already sampled the show – whether it was the original Americal show, television repeats or on DVDs. I believe that Season 2 will be better than Season 1. The show in its first season had a new concept for the Indian audiences, because the narrative was not linear – there were four tracks that ran side by side.

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