As the trend goes, afternoon slot is heating up. Though viewership, per se has increased here, the only channel gaining is STAR Plus. Other mass entertainment channels including Sony Entertainment Television, ZEE TV, Sahara Manoranjan and SAB TV have nothing to their credit for this slot. When STAR is consolidating its position, why are other channels lagging behind? More importantly, can something worthwhile be expected here?
To begin with, let’s look at some figures here. If the cumulative figures of mass entertainment alone are observed, the 6.61 average TVR of week 1, 2004, has steadily increased. Where the first 6 weeks gross 6-plus score, week 7 onwards afternoon has managed a 7-plus rating. Moving from 7.05 in week 7, week 9 goes to 7.18 to 7.52 in week 11. Despite being cricket weeks, week 12 and week 13 manage cumulative figures of 7.45 and 7.84. And week 14 gives mass entertainment channels 8.05 rating.
Needless to say that the only mass entertainment channel that shows healthy numbers is STAR. Week 13 and 14 give the channel an average TVR of 6.16 and 6.28. Going further to other channels, Sony has registered an increase in numbers but the move is from 0.49 in week 1 to 0.6 in week 8, which further increased to 0.75 in week 14. Zee TV’s growth is also on similar lines, keeping the channel between 0.51 and 0.78.
In terms of programming, while Zee has one original programme at its 2-pm slot — ‘Piya Ka Ghar’, Sony has none. Zee TV repeats include sections like ‘Super Serials’, which showcase old time programmes like ‘Banegi Apni Baat’ amongst others. Apart from ‘Kkusum’ and ‘Jassi…’ repeats, Sony’s afternoon has nothing substantial to offer.
What matters here is that when there is a substantial viewerbase, why are there no programmes? One reason that comes to fore is that since channels haven’t as yet been able to develop their evening bands, afternoon continues to be quite STAR’s playground.
Speaking more on afternoon slots in general, Jasmin Sohrabji, President, MediaCom South Asia informs, “Afternoons no doubt have turned into value for money. But not yet to the potential that original content for this slot would take precedence over primetime programming. What drives evening primetime is good original content but what drives afternoon is good scheduling. So you have repeats but they should be placed such that it gives you maximum audience. That’s the game there.”
Sunil Khanna, President, Zee Telefilms adds to that: “There are different audiences that are present in the afternoon time band. So, there are new viewers coming in this time slot, for whom, repeats play the role of new programmes. In any case, some of the serials that we have in the afternoons are from our earlier library. A whole generation has passed since. They have been successful in their time and apply to today’s age as well. I would not call these programmes, repeats.”
Nonetheless, he expresses that Zee TV would soon see original on the afternoon time band. Sony seems to be working on those lines as well. The channel as per its EVP, Programming and Response, Tarun Katial, claims that afternoons should change in the second half of the year. “There is a lot of action happening in our evening primetime currently. This is the first stage of our programming revamp, which will be in place by the time the first half of the year is over. Afternoon programming is the second phase of this plan and subsequent action will be seen,” he says.
Gaurav Dua, Sr Analyst (IT, Telecom and Media), Anagram Stock Broking, throws more light on why other channels are not cashing in on the afternoon eyeballs. “Any channel’s first priority would in developing evening bands. Factors like programming budgets play a role here. It is not that the channels are reluctant but the programming has to click before they develop other time bands. Until their evening bands are not in place, they cannot look at the afternoons at all,” he explains.
For Indian television, at one point there was no concept of an afternoon time band. Requisite experiments were done in this direction to develop the slot. But it is not necessary that the audience here limits itself to housewives. This is substantiated by the fact that the youth audience in this slot has shown a consistent increase in 2004.
Looking at cumulative figures for youth here, week 12, 13 and 14 gives this TG, respective figures of 8, 8.11 and 8.31 as against the 6-plus and 7-plus that it garnered in the prior weeks. However, there are no programmes addressing this TG at all. Afternoon is subservient to primetime and their development is dependent to that extent on primetime development.
(Figures considered are weekly channel shares calculated on Hindi speaking market for target C&S 4+, youth C&S 15-24, period: Jan 1 2004 – Apr 3 2004, time: 1.00 pm – 4.30 pm)