Originally a comedy channel, launched by the Sri Adhikari Brothers Group in 1999, SAB has undergone several makeovers post its acquisition by Sony Pictures Networks India in 2005
By Sonam Saini
Sony SAB has adopted a new brand philosophy yet again — the last time it did so was in 2017 — which, like previously, is aimed at ‘making people happy’. And to communicate this change, the TV channel has a new tagline, Khushiyon Wali Feeling.
Originally a comedy channel, launched by the Sri Adhikari Brothers Group in 1999, SAB has undergone several makeovers post its acquisition by Sony Pictures Networks India in 2005. While it was rebranded as a Hindi GEC, it retained comedy as its key ingredient. In fact, Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma has been its longest-running show.
While other GECs have experimented with comedy with shows such as The Great Indian Laughter Challenge and The Drama Company, none of them have been as successful. “Sony has tried a lot of comedy formats across its other network channels; but only The Kapil Sharma Show took off,” notes Vineet Sodhani, CEO, Spatial Access. Comedy is a difficult genre to crack and even harder to monetise.
Although Sony SAB enjoys the distinction of being perceived as a comedy channel, it prefers to be slotted as yet another Hindi GEC. Neeraj Vyas, business head, Sony SAB, Pal and Sony Max movie cluster, says, “Because Tarak Mehta…. has been running for so long on the channel, people have a perception that Sony SAB is a comedy channel. In fact, the show is more of a family drama than comedy.”
The channel has non-comedy shows such as Tenali Rama, Aladdin – Naam to suna hoga and Baavale Utaavale. Its content mix is not as promising as other GECs, and the channel is not striving to come close either. “Other channels have content to do with singing, dancing, reality, crime, fantasy and mythology. We are not diverse in our content offering,” admits Vyas, adding, “but we have content that the whole family can watch together. We are not the main course, but the dessert.”
Unlike the GECs that record higher viewership from women, “Sony SAB’s viewership is equally spread among men and women,” says Neelkamal Sharma, COO – buying, Madison World. It is the ‘family appeal’ that has been working for the channel, according to him.
Sony SAB is a popular choice among advertisers and the media buying fraternity; some media planners consider it a strong second to Hindi GECs. As per BARC India’s week 28 data, Sony SAB is among the top three channels in the urban markets. Star Plus leads with 427.7 million impressions, followed by Zee TV with 363.7 million impressions, and Sony SAB with 355.2 million impressions.
According to media planners, a 10-second spot on Tarak Mehta… costs Rs 1 lakh, and that is SAB’s most premium inventory. Other shows in its prime time band cost Rs 30,000-35,000 per 10 seconds. K Srinivas Rao, national director – buying, Mediacom, says SAB stands out because it has a unique set of audiences, which other channels do not have. “From a media planning perspective, it helps in building the overall media plan by bringing in a fresh set of audiences.”
The channel’s popularity, however, is limited to certain geographies. “Sony SAB works for a brand that would like to target West India. But for pan-India targeting, there are other channels that offer better reach,” says Mayank Shah, senior category head, Parle Products.