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INNOVATIVE PROGRAMMING

OF A DIFFERENT KIND(From left) A still from ‘Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’; UTV Bindass’ ‘Big Switch 2’

There was a time when television entertainment was limited to one government controlled channel and very few programming hours. Sounds unbelievable in an era where new general entertainment channels are being launched every other day, churning out the same old saas-bahu sagas and redundant reality shows! When all other channels were not innovative enough in terms of programming content, a few managed to carve their niche. That is precisely what UTV Bindaas and SAB TV have done.

Opting to stay away from the usual fare of family dramas, song and dance programmes or the run-of-the-mill reality shows, UTV Bindass and SAB have capitalised on their strengths, thereby generating TRPs. What’s good about their  strategy is that it is implemented keeping the viewers in mind. These channels cannot  boast of TRP spinners like Bigg Boss, Indian Idol, Pratigya, Sasural Genda Phool or Balika Vadhu, but they have managed to get audiences hooked to many of their shows.

While SAB specialises in family programming, offering wholesome entertainment through shows like Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chasmah, Papad Pol - Shahbuddin Rathod ki Rangeen Duniya, Gutur Gu, among others,  UTV Bindaas has been dishing out shows like Emotional Atyachaar, Love Lockup and Date Trap, which today’s youth can identify with.
Explains Nikhil Gandhi, business head of UTV Bindaas, “I feel it has a lot to do with the research that we do. We spend a lot of time considering the show’s impact on the audience. Our solo aim is to create content which has an original concept.”

Through this mantra, Gandhi and his team have been able to connect with a focused group they had identified earlier. “Aided by a very competent team, we have successfully created shows which can cater to younger crowds. Our target audience is youngsters between the age of 15 and 24,” he adds.

According to him, UTV Bindaas has an audience of 13 million every week.Says Pravesh Rana, host of Emotional Atyachaar and Love Lockup, “Programmes on Bindaas deal with human emotions. Since all our shows deal with relationships, they build an instant connect with the younger generation.”

SAB, however, has a completely different target audience and programming plan. The channel, which was almost written off a few years back when Sony took over, has bounced back with a bang. And the only reason for their success is that they provide wholesome family entertainment.

Serials like Gutur Gu — a silent comedy, Lapataganj — a fictional village where people always try to be happy, Papad Pol and Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah — both based on famous novels, and Jaankhilavan Jasoos, have been able to make people laugh wholeheartedly. In today’s era of entertainment, what more could audiences ask for?
Says Disha Vakani, better known as Daya ben of Taarak Mehta, “SAB is the only place that offers true family entertainment. There was a time when the channel offered programmes like Left Right Left and Love Story, but the authorities took the right decision at the right time to dish out only comedy shows.”

The popular actress feels this is what led to the immense popularity of shows on SAB. “Whenever I go abroad, it is amazing to know how popular the shows on the channel are,” she adds.

Prabal Barua, director and writer of Gutur Gu, one of the most popular shows on SAB, agrees and adds, “SAB offers programmes that offer comic entertainment round the clock. It is 24X7 unadulterated fun!”

Does that mean we will have more and more niche channels in the future? Are the days of general entertainment channels numbered? While it may be premature to make such a sweeping statement, there is no denying the fact that niche channels are here to stay. UTV Bindaas and SAB are the case in point.

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