Neeraj Vyas, Business Head, Sony SAB, PAL talks about the channels’ journey till date and the programming strategy for the year to come.
Sony Pal garnered a gross viewership of 521,011 in the second week of January 2019 to stand at no.8 in the top 10 most watched channels, while Sony Sab is marching towards being more than a comedy channel reviving its content strategy. Sony Sab is all set to launch four new fiction shows and will also explore more genres like dramedy and fantasy for weekend and weekday slots.
In a brief conversation, Neeraj Vyas, Business Head, Sony SAB, PAL shares the channels’ programming strategy in 2019 and 2018- the year that was.
From a business point of view, how was the year for Sony SAB and Sony Pal?
We have grown across both the channels in terms of ad sales, very clearly. We have had a substantial growth of about 15-20% across both the channels. More importantly, we managed to tap into a very large segment of brands which focus around the youth, which is an important reality, given the fact that there are so many brands who focus on the youth. It has been an outstanding year for us for both Sony SAB and Pal.
From a content standpoint, which formats have worked well for both the channels? What will be the learnings from 2018, that you will be applying in 2019?
From SAB’s angle, Taarak Mehta continues to rule the roost. It is our anchor show, to give it a cricketing terminology, it’s a show which guards one end of the wicket and is going strong. However, on the back of Taarak, we also have very strong properties like Aladdin, Tenali Rama going strong too. Then we have Jijaji Chhat Per Hain which has successfully entertaining our viewers for over a year now. Therefore, I think we have had many successes it has been one of our most stable years.
Please share your content plans for 2019. You have a number of new shows in the pipeline, please take us through the insights and statistics behind it + Please share your content strategies for Sony SAB 2019
We work with a singular vision of providing lighthearted content to our viewers. We are in the process of increasing our original programming and 2019 will see some great developments on that front. At our core, we understand that we are a living room brand and our content is reflective of that. Our content line up boasts of fresh programs ranging from daily family entertainment to path breaking concepts that are dedicated to promoting an enjoyable ‘family-viewing’ experience. We do not shy away from working on unconventional themes and are constantly looking for newer stories and genres to explore. We are happy to kick start 2019 with 2 new finite series, namely Band Baaja Bandh Darwaza and My Name Ijj Lakhan. We will also be launching 2 more shows in mid- February namely, Bhakharwadi and Bavle Utavle.
Sony SAB has been under constant pressure from consumers and advertisers for bringing back the lead character (Daya) of Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah. In terms of the script, how do you plan to stir the show in a new direction in the absence of one of its most prominent characters? In terms of the content plan, do you plan to launch any shows that take the burden off Tarrak Mehta?
Very honestly, I don’t think that has affected the show beyond a point and the ratings are a testimony to that. The show has moved on and the content of the show is beyond the absence of one character. While people will miss Daya, there are enough stories to be told and moments to be enjoyed despite Daya not being around. Sony SAB moved beyond just being a Taarak Mehta channel. This year we plan to add more content to our value-based entertainment banquet. In the first quarter, we have four new shows launching, in January we have 2 new finite series, Band Baja Bandh Darwaza and My Name Ijj Lakhan. In addition, in the month of February, we will be launching Bhakharwadi and Bavle Utavle.
How has the increasing viewership on mobile and OTT platforms impacted content consumption trends on television? How do you plan to take these changes into stride and make the most of it?
As of today, television is in a much bigger space looking at a penetration of close to 66% of Indian homes, which is a massive number given the complexities of India. However, having said that, do take into consideration the fact that the internet and data is getting cheaper and more and more smartphones are being used and sold. You will definitely see the internet reaching out to more and more people and content is going to be consumed at your own time. OTT, in a way, will cater to the top end of the audience which in any case is a small percentage, television will continue to service the larger masses of the country which is the larger chunk of the Indian viewing population. Nevertheless, both the mediums will happily coexist.