2020 has been the most challenging year, bogged down by the lockdown, shackled in chains of monotony and boredom.
Colors went ahead and launched new shows and Bigg Boss 14 comes at a time when the whole world had been in lockdown for nearly past six months. The show opened well and did well in spite of the short IPL window.
Now Colors is back with ‘Dance Deewane, Season 3. We spoke to Manisha Sharma, Chief Content Officer, Viacom18 on the launch, the programming strategy for the channel.
2020 derailed a lot of plans, but COLORS marched ahead with new launches and even launched Bigg Boss Season`14.Your thoughts?
The past year was indeed stressful, and at the start, we did not think that we would be able to pull off Bigg Boss because it is one of the biggest productions in India. The show is mounted on a large scale and there are many people involved in the production of the show. We have around 100 cameras rolling at any given time. We also had to ensure the safety of the crew and the artists because of the pandemic. No artists were allowed to go inside the house without being quarantined for the required amount of time. Nobody was allowed to have any kind of contact with the housemates. The groceries were supplied to the housemates with the crew wearing PPE kits. With all of this planned well in advance, we launched the show successfully and it opened very well. Even though it was in the middle of the pandemic and with IPL posing a challenge. Still, we pulled through and ended the season on a big high. Bigg Boss helped us consolidate our position in the top 3 GECs, so it has been good.
A slew of fiction shows was launched recently, could you take us through these shows?
As soon as the shoots started during the pandemic and television started airing fresh content, we launched IshqMein Marjaawan and NamakIsskKa. While Ishq Mein Marjaawan has almost come to its seasonal end and will be replaced soon, NamakIsskKa is still going strong. We also launched Molkki which is doing very well for us. Now we are replacing Bigg Boss with BawaraDil and our next offering is Udaariyaan which will be coming soon. So, as far as entertainment goes, we are going all out.
Dance Deewane is a flagship show for you and its third season is launching this weekend. What has been the response during the online auditions?
We were preparing for Dance Deewane before Bigg Boss, but then the pandemic struck all of us. We had not started shooting, but we were in the process of starting the auditions. Because of the pandemic, we had moved our auditions online. However, we had to put it on the back burner. Post the pandemic, there has been a lot of change in the country and we are seeing a lot of hopeful stuff. As we started auditioning, we came across some exceptional and talented people. They are not only passionate but were also on the lookout for a befitting platform to showcase their dancing prowess. While most of our audition came through online, we even went to individual homes to audition as things opened. We also made a few changes in our judges panel and got onboard DharmeshYelande along with Madhuri Dixit and Tushar Kalia. We have RaghavJuyal as the host who also comes from a dance background. These are all the more reasons that we are all looking forward to another exciting season of Dance Deewane.
In the new normal in 2021 as the country is opening up, what would be the programming strategies for COLORS?
COLORS is a flagship channel for Viacom, and we have a very robust plan for 2021. We are trying to get back to normal life now. Physically and mentally, everyone is a bit bogged down. We are also seeing new cases on the rise so we are being very cautious. Having said that, our programming strategy is going to be just as aggressive, if not more, to make up for the lost time in the past year. Earlier, if we had the liberty to wait and analyze a show isn’t doing well but we have to maintain a robust pipeline of shows so robust and take immediate action if something is not working. If the viewers are not connecting with a show, we are prepared to move on to the next big thing. Even though a lot of people are working from home, the media and entertainment industry is doing all it takes to do our best.
How long will the Dance Deewane season be?
It is approximately 39 episodes, so it will be around two months long.
How about IPL coming in as a competition for you in April?
Frankly, the way I look at it is that if we have survived the pandemic, we can survive it all. IPL is the least of our worries. With IPL, we only have to worry about a few cricket games as opposed to worrying about losing lives or livelihoods. It is life, and competition is a part of it. We have always planned as we go forward to tackle it.
From July when COLORS came back with fresh content, how has the viewership been for the channel?
Firstly, COLORS as a brand is different compared to the others. Star has been around for many years and has a legacy. Sony has also been around for a while, too, and they have a bigger bouquet of channels. Viacom18 is a very content-driven player in the market and very dynamic.COLORS too is a very dynamic channel that offers a variety of entertainment. If you see, we have really consolidated our position at number second. After July, we have come out with a lot of launches. With Bigg Boss, there were a lot of expectations and it opened well. It was a bumpy ride, but if you look at the competition around, we did really well and the show consolidated our position very strongly. Sure, we were concerned when, after a strong start, we were not seeing the numbers we wanted to. But then as it picked up, we gave it an extension and we ended our finale on a very big high. So, we are excited about it because it helped us consolidate on the top two players in the GEC space. When I look back, I feel like it was a great thing. For what we came out of, the pandemic, I would not want it any other way. Everything cannot be measured with the same intensity. Having said that, it ended well and as I look at it, I feel our hard work paid off. While we are all greedy to want to do more, but that’s life. That’s what keeps us going. But somewhere I feel it balanced itself out very well.
What will be your marketing strategy for 2021?
I can talk from a content point of view. There are as many viewers that the ‘traditional’ mediums attract as compared to the digital space. We are going to be aggressive in both the spaces because we see a lot of future and a lot of business in both spaces. We are emotionally very invested in both spaces. So, we are going to be out there equally for both the traditional and digital.