Appointment viewership, or the practice of viewers organising their schedules to watch their favourite TV programme, is what drives broadcasters to create or buy sticky content. Consistently high viewership rakes in more revenues for sponsorships. One of the earliest examples of appointment viewership were the Ramayana and Mahabharata in the late 80s. The rules of the game have changed since then and with a gamut of GECs offering attractive fiction and non-fiction content to woo loyal viewers, we look at what's getting consistent eyeballs.
Give them their daily soap
Daily soaps on Hindi GECs Star Plus, Zee TV, Colors and Life OK have been successful in building appointment viewership with an average of five-six million TVTs week after week. Shows such as Diya Aur Baati Hum, Saath Nibhana Saathiya, Jamai Raja and Kumkum Bhagya score ratings of 7.3, 7.2, 6.7 and 8.1 TVMs respectively (as per ratings from TAM subscribers week 34, August 17-23).
According to Nikhil Madhok, Senior VP, Marketing and Programming Strategy, Star India, soaps are driving appointment viewership in India. “As far as entertainment is concerned, since every episode of a soap is complete in itself, you can watch it anytime. Star’s fiction dramas are very popular. And the most viewed shows online are Yeh Hai Mohabbatein,
Saraswatichandra, Ek Haseena Thi and Mahabharat.”
Agrees Mayank Shah, Deputy Marketing Manager, Parle Products. “Besides, of late, some of the reality shows and crime stories have created a good amount of fan following and loyal viewers,” he added.
Betting big on Bollywood
Sports, says Madhok, is the key to generating appointment viewership the world over. “Since people like to watch it live, any sporting event becomes a big draw for broadcasters,” says Madhok.
But given a choice between soaps, sports and content with Bollywood stars, advertisers feel more confident spending on the last genre, as they are assured of eyeballs. Shah explains, “Normally, if you have a mix of both appointment viewing (driven by a star) and healthy ratings of the show, you can bank on an assured audience. You are also looking at a frequency by which to reach them - say twice or thrice a week. Typically, when you plan your media you look at a particular frequency of reaching that many viewers, and in that case being assured of an audience is always good.”
According another senior marketer, in India, any programme featuring Bollywood stars makes for appointment viewing. “Bollywood is a big draw. Whether it is Shahrukh Khan on a show or Kapil Sharma’s Comedy Nights which features star guests or Jhalak Dhikla Ja which is also about stars,” she said.
Ruchir Tiwari, Deputy Business Head, Hindi Movie Channels (Zee Cinema, &Pictures and Zee Classic), ZEEL points out that appointment viewing works differently for movie channels. “If you follow the timings of the movies on most channels, you will see they are not by the clock. Viewers maybe loyal but there is no assurance that they will come at that time. They know which channel shows their kind of movies and how many times they can watch the same movie. But that appointment is there, so they know which channel to come to first,” he explained.
However, Amit Tiwari, Director, Country Head, Media, Philips India says, “In India we don’t track content consumption patterns. We only have TVRs and ratings of programmes, but we don’t observe how the content is consumed. Tomorrow, if researchers show this data, it would be meaningful.” He added, appointment viewing happens primarily in the regional space rather than Hindi GECs. Explaining how this affects media plans, he said, “Region becomes much more focused as an approach when you’re actually planning anything. Not only do you get consistency, you also get a level of assurance from these particular programmes.”