television
Writer: Noor Fathima Warsia - Thursday, Mar 05,2009 7:38 AM
Battle for GRPs among Hindi GECs gets murkier; becomes a psychological thriller

The Hindi general entertainment genre has seen one of its most interesting weeks. While everyone was expecting Colors to have further closed the gap with STAR with the premier of ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’ and other movies such as ‘Welcome to Sajjanpur’ and ‘Bhootnath’ lined up, the poor numbers from ‘Jaane Tu…’, in a sense, wrecked the game for Colors. ‘Jaane Tu...’ delivered all of 2.1 TRPs, and Colors’ overall score in the week was 304 GRPs. This is the highest ever that the channel has managed till date, while Star Plus in the week was only one rating point ahead at 305 GRPs. However, Colors left no stone unturned to corner every rating point that it could lay its hands on.

All is fair in GRP war

With the exception of ‘Balika Vadhu’, every show ran with single breaks in the week. In essence, Colors gambled on a significant chunk of its weekly revenues to get these additional GRPs. For ‘Balika Vadhu’ the channel designed a highpoint in the one-hour special that allowed the show a rating of almost 9TRPs. Even the movie ‘Bhootnath’ was aired break-free on the channel. Hence, if the channel was making Rs 6-7 crore in a week, on the face of it, the number would come down by roughly 30-40 per cent.

Both the channels have done their own kind of highlighting of the week’s numbers. Colors officials refrained from commenting, but sent out an official communication stating that there were “two on top now”, while STAR India on their part, offered detailed comments on this “unnatural gain of TRPs” by Colors.

A STAR India spokesperson said in an email, “The desperation to get past Star Plus can drive people to any level. This week, they halved their commercial inventory, next week they could even run the channel without inventory or they could kill a few more characters on some of the shows.”

The spokesperson also insisted, “We don’t believe in these kinds of unnatural spikes, because the ratings come out every week. These spikes are detrimental to channel and viewer interests in the long run. Advertisers and viewers back our channel.”

It may be recalled that a few weeks back, Star Plus had no ads from 8.00 am to 9.00 pm on Saturday and had lined up back to back movies. The move had worked for Star in the week and kept it ahead of Colors despite the latter airing some big titles in the week. At that time, STAR officials had told exchange4media that it was “technical glitch”. However, another conversation doing media rounds at present is that similar “no-ads Saturdays” has become a common practice at Star Plus and that the channel had back to back movies for its weekends to get any addition rating point. STAR officials, however, have denied this and said, “We do have advertising on Saturdays, and we air perhaps six to eight movies over the weekend.”

The gap between Star Plus and Colors is expected to widen this week – Colors is back to its normal break patterns, and at least so far, the channel doesn’t have any tent-pole programming lined up.

Just a psychological war now

On various occasions, media planners – buyers and advertisers – have said that a 20-30 GRP gap doesn’t make a difference to the channels. R Gowthaman, Leader, Mindshare South Asia, had said, “It is a game of ‘Even Stevens’ at the top now. Colors has crossed the 250-GRP threshold and the premiums given to Star Plus and Zee TV were for its reach. These channels are now in the same league.” Other advertisers had agreed with this point of view.

Despite getting 304 GRPs, the celebrations at Colors were muted; the objective of beating Star Plus was not achieved. Nonetheless, Colors is too close for STAR’s comfort. Star Plus has a host of shows lined up in its primetime that include a thriller show ‘Chehra’, a period show ‘Shaurya Aur Suhaani’, ‘Sabki Laadli – Bebo’, a soap about a family who craves for a girl child, and ‘Bure Bhi Hum, Bhale Bhi Hum’. Colors has its own set of shows breaking soon too. Interestingly, the girl child tales on the two channels even sound similar.

Colors has decided not to say anything for now, while STAR has called Colors’ game plans a “desperate hunt for GRPs gains” and a “concerted effort to gain leadership at any cost possible as Colors has announced that it is turning pay from April 1, 2009”. But clearly, the race for the No 1 slot and staying there is not an easy one for either of the channels, and in the course, a new set of rules has emerged.

Also read:

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

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