Not many believed R K Singh, chief executive officer Zee Network, when he announced a couple of months back that Zee TV will reoccupy the number one slot by October 2001. None were ready to place a bet on the Zee stock, which despite assurances by the CEO, went on to touch new lows in the last couple of months.
However, despite the controversies surrounding the company, things may be changing for the better for Zee. Most fund managers are ready to give it a second look and rewrite its script again. This is evident from the stock behavior, which of late has been moving against the general tide of the market and recovering, albeit slowly.
What has worked for Zee? Three things have swung the tide in Zee's favour and this could just be the beginning. These are
Fading popularity of game shows.
New programming initiatives with focus on quality of content.
The Tehelka factor, which has brought back Zee's name and therefore the 'Brand' in the forefront of viewers' mind.
The popularity of trend-setting game shows such as Kaun Banega Crorepati and Chappad Phad Ke on rival channels is on the wane and viewers are back to watching soap operas. This is one development, which has proved to be a big plus for Zee after it quit the game show arena after a disastrous start with its Sawaal Dus Crore Ka in December.
However Zee is a heavy weight where soaps are concerned and the changed viewer interest has definitely helped its rankings and viewership. As per Intam, for the week ending 18 March 2001 TRP ratings for the channel moved up to 9.52 as against 5.75 for the week ending 28 January 2001.
Even in the area of individual programs, Zee's long running soap operas like Koshish Ek Asha, Mehendi Tere Naam Ki and Amanat figured in the top ten list, just behind Star's three best programs, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani and Kaun Banega Crorepati.
The new programming initiative, which Zee has undertaken, also seems to be have reworked things for Zee TV. Aided by tremendous publicity it generated with the telecast of the infamous Tehelka tapes, Zee seems to have succeeded in swinging audience interest to the channel.
Zee's creative team has this time around stayed clear of those time slots, which are already popular on other TV channels and is trying instead at creating viewer interest in new time slots. Simultaneously it is trying hard at improving the quality of content, which is evident when one watches the new programs.
Zee is obviously banking on the fact that comedies are instant hit with viewers, if they are good in content. Moreover, of late, Zee had no comedies in its program list something, which SABE TV has been heavily banking on. Moreover the fact that holidays are here, having begun in right earnest, children will be looking at comedies more often than not. Says Sainath Iyer, President Zee TV and company's spokesperson, " We expect these programs to bring back fun and frolic back into the lives of television viewers."
Zee also seems to have another ace up its sleeve in Pradhanmantri, a one hour spoof on Indian politics, being shown between 10 p.m. and 10.30 p.m.. The program has attracted advertising interest, which is rare in case of new programs.
Zee is back at what it has been good at all the while --- programming. Will it sustain viewer interest this time around? Remember its well-publicized and largely awaited reality show, the first one on Indian TV, POW is yet to hit the screen. Lets wait and watch because only time will tell.