It may be the most powerful of all genres at present, but being a player in the Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) is not that much fun right now. While competition has always been tough in the genre, the game is moving to clever combinations than just great stories well told.
Looking at the genre closely, if the last six weeks are brought under the scanner, STAR Plus still is the clear undisputed leader in the segment. But it is obvious that the leader is seeing more than its share of worry from increasing competition from Zee TV. When primetime numbers are seen closely, the gap between Zee TV and STAR Plus is a significant one, but two episodes of ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ were enough to reduce the gap.
The media fraternity, however, has very strong faith in STAR Plus and what it delivers. Amol Dighe, National TV Buying Head, MindShare Fulcrum, said, “Both in primetime and all day ratings, STAR Plus continues to be delivering good numbers, but the mass genre itself is going through a churn.”
Agreeing with him, Manoj Malkani, Associate Media Director (Buying – All India), Carat Media, felt that Hindi mass channels were facing some of the most competitive times that they had ever seen. Madison Media’s Business Director, Navin Kathuria, said, “Fragmentation in the genre has been a problem for a while now, like it is for television per se. Mass channels themselves realise it and that is why we see a continuous attempt of revamp and differentiation from channels – it’s a different issue that some work and some don’t.”
Moving back to the channel play, data had very interesting numbers to show in primetime, where SaharaOne overshot Sony Entertainment Television and STAROne on the all day parameter in the latest TAM week. The case is different in primetime where the tussle is again between Sony and STAR One.
The charts at present place Sony on the third position and SaharaOne and STAR One fighting on the fourth slot. While on the all day slot, Sony is the clear No. 3 player, on the primetime slot, it faces significant competition from STAROne. In primetime, SaharaOne and SAB compete closely, but the last four weeks have seen the numbers of both the channel marginally increase.
Speaking on the channels’ performance, media experts are more in the agreement of the point that the present dynamics are more of a result of Sony losing numbers than other channels gaining. They are quick to add that channels like SaharaOne are definitely picking up and have a lot lined up in terms of new content in days to come. “But there is still a long way for them to catch up,” said Dighe. Malkani and Kathuria second this.
Soaps aren’t so slippery
Not very long ago media experts were quoting the beginning of the end of the soaps era. Data as yet far from supports this. When asked what led to Sony losing numbers in the way that it has, experts had one answer – the channel had banked too much on format shows.
Malkani said, “In any kind of a format show, there is always a pattern of numbers coming and dropping and then building towards the finale again. So you give the audience a chance to sample other shows. This is what worked in the favour of Zee TV – the good thing for them was that the channel had good stories to show at the time and managed to keep this audience.”
Kathuria pointed out, “The whole question is about the universe. Sony is facing the problem that Zee faced some time back. But with shows like ‘Saath Phere’ and ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’, they were able to build that audience back and then they supplemented this with ‘Kasamh Se’ and now recently launched shows like ‘Dulhann’.”
Media experts also cite here that SaharaOne’s strategy of movies and soaps did work to get them as high as 122 GRPs in week 43. “Soaps with formats or properties like movies appear to be the delivering combination right now,” said Kathuria. Coming back to the soap debate, he said, “There is still time for them to go out of fashion.”
As for the mass genre space itself, Dighe puts it simply, “We are in a situation of increased media options – whether in the form of new properties or new channels – are aplenty and audiences are moving from mass channels to sample these. So, there is increased fragmentation and the intensity of watching TV is decreasing.”
And hence, continues the evolution of Hindi mass entertainment in India.