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Writer: Noor Fathima Warsia - Wednesday, Feb 04,2009 7:13 AM

Hindi GECs tread between innovation & desperation to combat Wed night blues

The Hindi general entertainment battle continues to see the players slug it out every week, every day, and in every slot to stay ahead, even if by a point, of its competition. Colors leading over Star Plus in primetime for the last two weeks has the latter worried, and even as the current players see the leaders and the followers turn every stone to corner any available rating point, there already is a Real that is gearing to launch in March, and the Hindi GEC announced by Sun TV that would add to this madness in the genre.

Everyone seems to have interesting cards up their sleeves, and some of the moves tread a fine line between innovation and desperation.

The six rating point difference between Star Plus and Colors last week would have reminded some of the situation last year when Star Plus and Zee TV were neck and neck for a very brief period. Colors, however, did not have a show spike that led to these numbers and has shown steady growth over the last few months. Star, needless to say, is worried.

Speaking to exchange4media on this single-digit gap between Star Plus and Colors in the last two weeks, Keertan Adyanthaya, EVP and GM, Star Plus, admitted, “It’s definitely a matter of concern; we don’t like competition to be so close and we are taking steps to ensure that the gap is widened again.”

In the last two weeks, Colors is leading over Star Plus in the 7.00 pm to 11.30 pm band for the C&S 4+ in the Hindi speaking markets, and the situation is a new one for the latter. Adyanthaya nonetheless is confident about Star Plus staying ahead, and stated that “hopefully” it was only the last two weeks where the newcomer had been this close to the channel.

Star Plus has been busy ensuring that too. ‘Ye Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai’ has been the most successful fiction launch in the last three years. In the last week, ‘Bidaai’ like ‘Ye Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai’ became five days a week, and ‘Bidaai’s repeat telecast has been moved to 11.00 pm, parked in the same slot as ‘Balika Vadhu’ repeat, and the channel’s original episode of ‘Kayamath’ has been moved to 11.30 pm, consequently extending the channel’s primetime to midnight.

Another interesting observation for many was Star Plus not airing any ads on January 24, 2009, from 8.00 am to 9.00 pm. STAR officials have explained that this was the result of a technical glitch, but the situation did help STAR corner a few rating points that significantly helped the channel stay ahead of Colors in the week-four numbers.

The game has only just begun

Wednesday night marks the culmination of one match between the channels, and the beginning of the other, where once again all the players have a chance to beat their competition. The expectations from week five is for the gap between Colors and Star Plus to widen on the back of ‘Bidaai’s one-hour special on Friday and the ‘Star Screen Awards’. If ‘Singgh is King’ delivers, it would allow Colors to hold on a bit to its numbers, but it is the primetime numbers that would be interesting to watch out for this week too.

Colors has already announced ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi 2009’, where actor Akshay Kumar returns to the small screen with another 13 contestants. The social cause of female infanticide is set to take up the screen with ‘Laado’. Given ‘Balika Vadhu’, and even ‘Uttaran’, the expectation from ‘Laado’ is high. And then the channel also has ‘India’s Got Talent’.

Zee TV at present has let go of all music format shows and has high expectations from ‘Dance India Dance’. The channel is happy with the performance of ‘Choti Bahu’ in the 7.30 pm slot. Sony Entertainment Television has been busy with its own set of new launches. NDTV Imagine has eight new shows marked to break in the year. Many are waiting to see what ‘Shakuntala’ can do for Star One. SAB has seen a positive 2009 so far. Even a channel like 9X, that has been airing repeat programming, has names like ‘Black’, ‘Bombay to Goa’ and ‘Gladrags Mrs India’, that the channel is hoping would shake up its line-up and add to its GRP count.

The efforts to stay ahead are as fundamental as new heads as seen in Zee TV, to as major as new shows seen across channels, to as minor as stunts like obit ads – Star Plus once did it for ‘Kis Desh Mein Hai Mera Dil’ and now Colors has done for one of its shows – and weekend stacks or ‘technical glitches’ resulting in 13 hours of no ads. All the channels are very clearly busy treading the fine path between innovation and desperation to ensure that they beat competition, every week, every day and in every slot. Wednesday nights have set a scorching pace to the ratings race in 2009.

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