CI: What kind of need gap will Life OK fill in the Star India portfolio?
Sanjay Gupta (SG): Star India has a good presence among all the entertainment networks in all languages. In Hindi, we have Star Plus which has been the leader channel for more than a decade. We do think there is an opportunity to offer a variety of content to consumers, beyond Star Plus. Therefore this idea of launching a channel within the Star Portfolio in Hindi GEC.
This channel actually is a refreshment of Star One - Star One will now be Life OK. Star One hadn't been performing very well, and has been small for a reasonably long period of time. It had a niche appeal, focussed on youth, and we wanted to give it a larger shape and size. To close the channel, what we did on 15 December was that there was a closure of the stories on Star One with all the characters bidding goodbye to their viewers in a two-hour long event. In every phase of change, there is some worry in the minds of consumers who like the original product, but I'm sure what we will offer in the new avatar will more than satisfy and engage viewers again.
The fact that we dropped the prefix 'Star' in the name Life OK is only indicative of the fact that if we are making a second entry in the Hindi GEC space, it is best done with a new name. With Star Plus being so big, every other name with 'Star' in front of it implies a younger brother or sister of that channel, and we wanted Life OK to have an independent identity of its own.
CI: How will Life OK be positioned for consumers?
SG: Life OK competes with everyone else, and is talking to all consumers - small town, large town, urban or rural. From a consumer point of view, there are four things which are different from what any of the other channels offer. Firstly, all stories on this channel are told seven days a week (as opposed to five days a week which is the norm). That's why the launch is also on a Sunday (18 December). Secondly, in every hour, there are three stories being told (while other GECs tell two stories, making it seem that the storyline progresses slowly).
Thirdly, all the characters on this channel emanate from a philosophy after which the channel is named. Today, India is on a growth path, everyone's trying to get to a better life. With this growth, one of the challenges is that when we are aiming for tomorrrow's desires, are we in some way compromising our today? There is an intense feeling that we have to cherish what we have today, especially in terms of values. That philosophy runs across all the content - 'Sach Ka Saamna', which has been a successful show earlier, gets launched this time with a fight against corruption, where without pointing fingers, people on the show are looking for a new beginning. Another show 'Saubhagyawati Bhavah' shows that parents try to marry their daughters looking at wealth and stature, but is that enough, or do you need to look for values in the family as well?
The fourth different thing is that the name itself captures the philosophy. Most of the channels today don't have a face, you only have characters that come and go. For the first time, we have a face to this channel in Madhuri Dixit, who will be a narrator or 'sutradhar' and will raise pertinent questions through each of the shows. She will be associated with the channel for the next few months.
SG: Ajit Thakur will be business head, and Zulfiqar Khan will be in charge of ad sales (Kevin Vaz heads ad sales for the entire Star portfolio).