India's Hindi general entertainment channels have enlisted the help of some blockbusting television shows to fend off the challenge to viewing figures from this year's hotly anticipated Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket season.
Star Plus will launch its singing reality show Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar 2 on 31 March, hosted by actress and presenter Mandira Bedi and judged by singer Shaan and composer Santanu Moitra, while Viacom18's Colors is introducing two new shows - the social thriller Chhal – Sheh Aur Maat, and Kairi – Rishta Khatta Meetha.
"We reckon there is a loyal audience for cricket just as for entertainment channels and don't see a huge overlap of the two. Moreover, if the content and concept of a show are strong, the audiences will continue to watch their favourite shows over IPL," Prashaant Bhatt, head of fiction, Colors, is quoted as saying by IANS.
"We don't plan to launch a show or postpone the launch because of IPL. Our programming line-up and launch plans are thought through months in advance keeping in mind the audience viewing preferences and content requirements of the channel," he added.
"A lot of research goes into the decision of when is the right time to launch a particular show. With Kairi, it was just the right time to launch a new show as part of our new programme line up."
The children's talent show Dance India Dance Li'l Masters 2 is planned for launch on Zee TV, along with the fiction series Phir Subah Hogi, and SAB TV has resurrected the popular topical comedy show Movers and Shakers after a decade long absence.
The fifth annual IPL tournament will be staged from 4 April to 27 May, with the 76 matches to be broadcast in India by Sony Entertainment Television (SET) Max.
The broadcaster has unleashed an aggressive marketing campaign to draw attention to the T20 cricket league, which will feature nine teams competing over a period of 54 days.
"With this campaign, we want to bring alive the obsession and passion of IPL, which brings people together across the country with their friends and families, to enjoy the biggest extravaganza on Indian television. We look forward to yet another record-breaking edition of the DLF IPL this year," Gaurav Seth, senior vice president (Marketing and Communications), Max, told IANS.