When Colors CEO Rajesh Kamat and Programming Head Ashwini Yardi revealed their new programming line-up to the media last month, they were less than 50 GRPs away from Star Plus. That’s sneezing distance, one could say. So, when do you expect to be No. 1, I asked them. Kamat and Yardi were certain it wouldn’t happen in a hurry. Kamat spoke of the vast library of movies that Star had and suggested that it wasn’t as simple to overtake the leader.
And then they disclosed their acquisition of films and that one of them, ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’, was to be on air in February. Given that the programming on Colors was refreshingly different from that on Star Plus, I was sure that the world premiere of the teeny blockbuster starring Imran Khan and Genelia would see Colors turn the new numero uno.
I already had in mind a comment that I would write here in place of this. “Welcome, the new No. 1,” it would say. And possibly an impact cover story too. So, when I got the news that it had notched just 0.9 points lesser than Star Plus, I was disappointed. Hugely so.
Apparently, the ‘Jaane Tu…’ gamble didn’t work as well. But the rest of the tweaking did. A Colors rep told an ex-colleague that there were some disturbances in the reception of the film. Yes, I remember experiencing those myself and my naturally cynical mind wandered with options. But since I didn’t hear of any complaints the following day, I thought it had just happened to me and didn’t quite bother to dig deeper.
So, what does this trip-up on the finishing line mean for Colors? I am told that there is some gloom in the Viacom18 offices, but from what we are being subjected to by the various parties concerned, the battle appears to have just begun. My worry is, in fact, precisely that. Have the two channels lost their balance in this quest for one-upmanship? Is Colors ready to sacrifice on revenues just to assume leadership? Is Star spending more time on doing stuff that will help shore up ratings than concentrate on programming and think long-term?
I see no point in all of this. To twist the title of the Saif Ali Khan-Sonali Bendre flick, it’s a case of GRPs ke liye kuch bhi karega! Media buyers and marketers are convinced of Colors’ status at the top. Sacrificing on ad breaks to ensure you don’t lose viewers is a great idea, but suicidal when it comes to protecting your bottomline. Paying astronomical amounts to acquire movies is as risky as buying a super cricketer for your IPL team. If the player doesn’t perform, it’s dollars down the drain. Ditto with movies. ‘Jaane Tu’s dismal performance on TAM’s meters was a shocker.
These are tough times. It’s good to be aggressive and adventurous, but it’s vital to keep costs under control and not get too ambitious on this count. The next ratings update will come in six days from today… that’s coincidentally the second day of Holi, the festival of colours. Guess we need to wait another week to know if we’ll see a festival of Colors as well. Or should we just be content with the Stars post the full moon? Heck, any one betting on a tie?