Disney’s STAR TV Network
Creative Director/ Group Lead, Programming
I led the content strategy of a nationwide leading tv show in India to boost its flagging ratings.
Country’s topmost show, Star Plus’ ‘Sapna Babul ka… Bidaai’ needed to gain foothold on its erstwhile popularity, and increase its falling ratings.
The show was one of the highest rating point contributors of the network and help widened its gap with competition. Its dismal performance enabled the network’s closest rival, Colors TV, a part of Viacom, become the leading TV network.
To boost the ratings of the network’s former top ranking show.
Create an engaging storyline and identifiable show elements to captivate the masses.
Have synergy between the content and the network’s revamped vision.
Introduce sampling of new users and increase user base.
The content was lackluster with a convenient story, inconsistent POVs and cliched dialogues. With the absence of tension & motivation, the unengaging script was neither going forward nor developing the characters.
The once-novel look and feel of the show had now become stale and dated. Tight deliveries leading to back-to-back scenes in the same location made it worse.
The series had already ran for a year and users were well acquainted with the story and characters. In the absence of new tracks and faces, audience fatigue had set in.
The falling ratings of the show had led to a decreased morale of the crew which was reflecting in their performance.
The show needed to be freshly marketed and promoted. We were not telling well by not selling any new development on the show well.
On the sets
I sat down with the writers and, with our collective efforts, we conceptualized new tracks and high points; brainstormed on the broad story forwards, breaking them down to episodic screenplays & dialogues; we introduced new cameos and detailed their character sketches with nuances/body languages.
With the help of Star leadership, funds were allocated to the producers. We revamped the show, created a new set for interiors and restyled the look of prime characters. Our sales team helped us receive a sponsorship for Kerala tourism so we introduced the upcoming high-point in Kerala’s scenic locales.
In frequent collaborative sessions with the crew, I could help pace up the episodes with motion shots; beginning scenes midway; match cuts & montages; and creating entry-exit hooks.
Frequent visits to shoots and regularly updating the crew about the positive developments of the show helped increase their morale. The new-found enthusiasm worked well with the revamp.
In consultation with the senior leadership and scheduling team, we extended the programming time band and delivered repeat shows at 11pm. With close work with the production house, we introduced two one-hour specials of the show on weekends.
The marketing, PR and On-Air Promotion teams helped us run regular weekly & fortnightly promos. We further highlighted the revamp by devising news pegs to create buzz while taking care of not revealing the storyline.
Feedback for the writers (in blue) on the show scripts
On the sets
The show regained its former glory and broke all records in the national television history. It touched the highest-ever rating of 9.6 in Jan 2009 and got an average of 8.9, which no show had ever got. It became the leading show consecutively for 25 weeks in its time slot in a total of 180M+ homes. Further, in 2008 alone, it won 25 television awards.
The extended time band and the weekend one-hour specials brought in sampling of newer audience and increased channel viewership.
The show also ended up playing a key role in ensuring Star Plus’ topmost position. The network remained at the top of GEC (General Entertainment Channel) space for 4 months, outpacing Colors TV by 100 GRPs for nearly 8 weeks.
With the lead cast of the show
Despite the close collaboration between the programming and production, there could have been more honest conversations regularly on improving the content. The success of the show blinded the creative team which resulted in the earlier downfall of the show.