Bucking the trend, SAB has been able to thrive in recessionary times. Riding on its brand promise of ‘Asli Mazaa SAB Ke Saath Hai’, the channel’s shows are light-hearted and make for an enjoyable family-viewing experience.
Excerpts from an interview with Anooj Kapoor, the Business Head of the channel:
How have you managed this turnaround?
After thorough research, last year we re-launched SAB as a family comedy entertainment channel. It happened for the first time in the history of television that a channel is promoted as being devoted to a genre. Otherwise general entertainment channels promote specific shows. It worked and in the last one year only Colors and SAB have shown substantial growth. Now we are ahead of our competitors, Star One, SaharaOne and 9X.
Did the recession help?
Of course. People are tired of watching news about abduction and man slaughter. They want some fun. The success of a large number of comedy films in the last few years shows that people are amenable to comedy genre.
But female audiences were known to like emotional dramas?
We tweaked the format. We discovered that women like soap format but male members want something light, some fun. We combined the two – comedy in a daily soap format. The main protagonist remains a female. Shows like “Jugni Chali Jallandhar” and “Main Kab Saas Banungi” had all the ingredients of the soap except for the fact that they didn’t portray saas-bahu relationship in a negative or a melodramatic way. Then “FIR”, “Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chashma” and “Maniben.com” followed and audience lapped them up. While others were only reducing the age of the bahu, we introduced differentiated programming. We introduced first horror comedy in the form of “Bhootwala Serial” and then gangster comedy in the form of “Gunwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge” and now “Yeh Chanda Kanoon Hai” is a courtroom comedy. I am glad that the judiciary has taken it in the right spirit.
You seem to get your highest viewership from Gujarat?
Gujarat got hooked to “Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chashma” because Tarak Mehta is a cult figure in the state and we didn’t fiddle with his writing. Then “Maniben.com” added to the numbers. Also we must not forget that since “Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi” was set in a Gujarati household, people in Gujarat love to watch their stories on television. However, we also get good numbers from Rajasthan, Punjab and Maharashtra.
First there is “Thank you Jijaji”, then there is “Sonu Sweety”. We are also working on a silent comedy, something like “Pushpak”.A.K.