The past year has not been easy for any television channel. Digitisation and the inclusion of LC1 towns in the viewership ratings sent ratings and businesses into turmoil. While most tried to make sense and find their footing in the new scenario, Life OK, the new Hindi GEC kid on the block, managed to grow fast and steady. Completing two years today, Life OK seems to have learnt the tricks of the trade.
When it launched in December 2011, Life OK had one thing clear in its mind. The channel would always be for the family. And it has stuck to that. With a mix of mythology, family drama, romance, horror and reality shows, Life OK has found a stable balance on what works and what doesn’t for the entire family.
“Life OK was supposed to be a challenger to the No. 1 slot within the network. We had the full backing of the management in terms of intent and investment. But the proof that we can actually do it has come only in the last 6-8 months. We have grown to 14 per cent share and reached No. 4. But more importantly, people are taking notice that in terms of reach, we are as good as the top channel! Having said that, we are getting as many failures as we are getting hits. So there is more we need to do in terms of content. Our marketing needs to reach the next level so as to have more impact properties in terms of characters and shows. So a lot of work has to be done,” said Ajit Thakur, General Manager, Life OK.
Family is the TG
Life OK’s select few properties have shown great growth and potential. While ‘Mahadev’ remains the channel’s biggest show, garnering fans and TVT, newer launches like ‘Shapath’ and their kitty of reality shows have done well too. In Week 40 of TAM 2913, the channel achieved the highest ever viewership, recording a gross TVT of 347 million.
“One of the reasons ‘Mahadev’ has worked so well is because it caters to the whole family. It is not that mythology is the only thing that is working for us. Again, ‘Khauff’ is our newest show in the horror segment. We have data for only a week, but it seems to have touched a note with the audience,” said Sushma Rajesh, Head of Programming, Life OK.
The show doesn’t follow the same format as other horror shows. This is about one man’s personal journey as he fights the demons. So it is as much a horror show as it is a family oriented series.
Life OK has, however, been choosy about its reality show selection. Their biggest property in this genre has been the recent ‘The Bachelorette India’ whereby the channel set out to find Mallika Sherawat her love.
“Every non-fiction that we have done, we have tried to make sure it is absolutely new and different. The ideas are really nice ideas. It can’t be just another song and dance show. If it is a striking idea, we will absolutely take it up. But for the present, we are focusing more on fiction,” pointed out Rajesh. “What works and what doesn’t is something we could have answered two years ago. But today the variety of content is so huge and versatile that it becomes almost impossible to say what is a sure fire thing.”
The variety of content also leads to certain overlapping of genres. ‘Savdhan India’, one of the more popular properties on the channel, is a reenactment of real life incidences. Therefore, it can be both fiction and non-fiction, even as the bulk of viewers for this programme are the non-fiction watchers. The thin line between reality and fiction are blurring, the channel feels.
Other than ‘The Bachelorette India’ and ‘Savdhan India’, they have had shows like ‘Welcome’, a show on hosting and dining. Depending on whether the idea is conducive to the market, the channel picks up its reality show formats. Life OK is also looking for homegrown shows at the moment, and is already looking at certain international formats.
The heterogeneity in terms of genre extends to the markets as well. Even before TAM made it mandatory to count LC1 towns, Life OK was already making shows which made sense to smaller towns and cities – the vast majority in middle India, with a certain class of people and certain mindset – which the channel has targeted. Life OK has admittedly always targeted the UPs and MPs of the world, more than the metros.
The marketing strategy also has to be designed keeping in mind the target audience. With a plethora of new shows in the next few months, Life OK has newer markets to tap and the current markets to grow further in.
“Market focus will be a big one for us. We would not depend on just one or two shows per quarter, like other channels do. We believe that our fiction shows are our marquee shows. Constant reminders of what is happening is going to be the strategy for all our shows. Every campaign would be like a launch campaign for us. Even if you look at our fiction shows you will see that they are all very different from each other and they all require constant reminders and campaigns,” pointed out Parinda Singh, Head of Marketing, Life OK.
For ‘Bachelorette India’ also, the channel had spread the marketing choice to towns other than the big metros. Punjab and North India had been the big focus areas and the channel had made sure that Mallika Sherawat’s media savvy was utilised.
Life OK has also made sure that its weekend programming changes with time. Around 6-8 months back, it redesigned the weekend slots, moving shows like ‘Shapath – Super Cops VS Super Villains’ to the weekend primetime slot. Since these shows were suitable for kids as well as parents, they got a stronger foothold in the segment. ‘Shapath’ was followed by ‘Savdhan India’ and ‘Khuaff’, and the next one will be ‘Hatim’.
“GECs are consumed by women a lot more because of the kind of programming that is put out normally. But in India, even today 95 per cent houses are single-TV homes and at any given point of time, there would be more than one person watching television. What Life OK has attempted to do since the very beginning is to target at least two to three people in a family. And that has worked for us. So, for weekdays the focus is probably a bit more female skewed but the attempt is to build prominent male characters. On weekends we do the reverse. The approach to the household is through the kid’s point of view or male point of view and then the female viewership. So we have something for everybody at every point of time. It is more of a group TG focus,” claimed Rajesh.
“Don’t get us wrong. We love dramas. But instead of just ‘saas-bahu’ dramas in a kitchen set-up, we wanted to see everything from social drama to crime to thriller to mythological to love story. Everything on the channel would be different from the previous half-hour, which means there is no fatigue with the shows,” commented Thakur.
The focus has always been on creating a buzz for the channel, more than just achieving numbers. According to Thakur, that is the strategy for building brand loyalty. “If we can’t build loyalty, then they are as good as the last show,” he said.
In Quarter 1 of next year, the channel is hoping to get a big brand refresh as well. However, even with that, the Life OK team hopes to keep it as a family destination.