The development of the 7.30 pm slot is an interesting one for Indian mass entertainment. Where primetime for the channels began 8.00 pm onwards, channels like Star Plus and Zee TV have tried and tapped on the early audiences as well.
The beginning of 2005 was hardly a good one for the slot. The only player making any noise in this half hour was Star Plus with 'Hello Dollie'. TAM Media Research data shows that where STAR began with a share as high as 10.74 per cent for the C&S 4+ in the Hindi speaking market, which grew to 12.43 in the first four weeks, the period hence saw the channel steadily slipping, coming to as low as 7.62 in week 13 and 6.9 in week 14.
Sony Entertainment Television hasn't played any original programming on the slot for a very long time now. Nonetheless, until week 7 it was the number two player in the slot. Zee TV and Sahara One closely followed. But Zee TV's graph in the year has been growing. The channel began 2005 with a share of 2.65 per cent, which continually grew to give a share of 4.46 in week 8, taking the number two position away from Sony.
Zee's growing graph and STAR's dropping graph took Zee to the leadership position in the slot in week 13, when Zee TV introduced its daily 'Sinndoor' here. For the next three weeks, Zee maintained this numero uno position. But STAR India changed its content plan.
'Hello Dollie,' which was targeted at the teen audience, was transformed to 'Princess Dollie', a fantasy tale, significantly drawing the younger audience and offering a complete contrast to Zee's family drama 'Sinndoor'. Results for STAR are positive, as the channel share instantly shot up 13.05 in week 16, making STAR the number one player again.
Looking at the graphs for both the channels - STAR was the leader in week 16 and 17, Zee beats it in week 18 and 19. Week 20 again sees Star Plus on a high with a channel share of 12.3 and Zee on the second slot at 10.9, the match becoming an interesting one between the two.
Sony and Sahara One battle it out for fourth position in 7.30 pm slot. Presently, Sony is playing the repeats of 'Ye Meri Life Hai' in this slot and Sahara One as 'Ruby Duby Hub Dub'.
For Sahara One, 2005 meant a linear graph but SAB TV dropped from the 1 plus channel shares it was managing to the present decimal percentages.
The players who bring media attention to 7.30 pm are Star Plus and Zee TV. The changes in content and the new initiatives that have come in the slot make it an interesting one to watch. Explaining more on the reasons on why Zee TV took this initiative in this band, Ashwini Yardi, Head, Programming, Zee TV, said, "We wanted to develop this slot. It has substantial potential and we wanted to tap on that."
'Sinndoor' is delivering better than the traditional primetime shows for the channel. Speaking on what has worked for the show, Yardi said, "The content of the show is powerful and it is evolving well. The show has been marketed well as well and even the unconventional slot has worked."
She explained that the channel is quite keen on developing this slot further. In regards to STAR India, Deepak Segal, EVP, Content and Communication, said that developing the 7.30 pm slot is in keeping with STAR's strategy of milking any slot that has audience in it.
"Hello Dollie was a brilliant format but we realised that the audience was looking for a different kind of an entertainment there, which would be lighter that what follows in the rest of the evening and so we moved in the fantasy way. The change was marketed well and it is delivering for us," said Segal.
Sahara One however is in the process of bringing a new show here. Purnendu Bose, COO, Sahara One, said, "The slot has so far shown encouraging numbers. Evidently, there is audience here that can be tapped on and hence needs a complete review."
He explained that from the kids' programming 'Rubu Duby Hub Dub', the channel is looking at bringing a more racy and trendy show here. "We are looking at bringing in a niche show for the young adults." Details around the show have to be still crystallised and the channel is looking at a June end or early July period for the show.
Sony TV has given no indication of changing its plans of playing only repeats in this slot and the channel officials didn't offer any other comments either.