With Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently stating during the Budget session that Doordarshan (DD National) will compete on par with other TV channels, the channel has recently launched a barrage of new shows and repackaged old ones. Shows such as ‘Ek Tha Rusty’ season 3, Ghan Garaje, The exalted portals of Thumri, Nadiyaan Gaati Hain and few others like these have been introduced one after the other within the last two months. This begs the question if DD National is ready to set aside its age-old ways and become a television channel to really compete with other contemporary private channels?
According to a source from the national channel, “Though the channel will not be able to compete with the likes of Hindi GECs such as Star Plus, Zee TV, etc., as our audience primarily lies in small towns and villages, we are however now trying to capture viewers from the urban audience”. Further to this, the source said that though the network is autonomous they cannot deny the influence of the Finance Minister’s speech and the Information and Broadcast Ministry on the channel and the push for it become more competitive.
However, if one were to take a look at some of their recent programs, many of them are just a re-introduction of old shows which have done well in the past. ‘Ek Tha Rusty’ for instance was once upon a time a top rated show on television at a time when competition was too little. Though they might expect to tap into the nostalgia of the viewers with the new season 3 it seems almost like an insurmountable task with the choice audiences have today. The other shows launched recently combine a mix of infotainment and music shows such as Nadiyaan Gaati Hain, Earth Matters, Gaon Connection, Yatra, Taaki Bahti Rahe Ganga and Ghan Garaje and appeal to a very niche audience. The only show that has done quite well is the reality dance show ‘Bharat Ki Shaan: Let’s Dance’, which has performed well on the channel for five seasons. This year however it has been revamped with a new look and has managed to rope in Close-Up as the title sponsor for the show. Among the new programs introduced lately is the soap ‘Aisa Prem Kahan’ which they hope will get them more eyeballs.
Giving an optimistic view on this, Balakrishna P.M., COO, Allied Media, Percept Group said, “It’s not going to be easy as the penetration of cable and satellite is there now. But you never know as they (DD National) have the reach and the platform is there. If the quality of production and the look goes up, then I don’t see any reason why DD National can’t compete with private players.
Doordarshan till now has the highest reach across the country, so it only needs to reinvent itself from a content and packaging look and feel point of view, and if they can do it will obviously become a very powerful and important channel.”
Shekhar Banerjee, Senior VP & Head, Madison Media India – Pinnacle however feels that it finally depends on the production house of the shows. “It depends now if they are doing it (the shows) with an in-house production or they are doing it with a private production house. So basically they need to have the right production house, right budget and the right script and finally they have the reach.”
With regards to the revenue model, DD National will be now implementing profit sharing with the producer according to the source, which means that the channel will only provide a platform for the producers of the show. It is entirely up to the producers to bring in sponsorship and advertisers for the show, which will then be divided equally with the channel.
According to Banerjee it is a good revenue model to work with. “In a way it secures them for the revenues, let’s put it this way. But it sounds similar to what Sun TV does. What Sun TV does is that part of the (ad) inventory gets sold by the private producer itself and the balance by the channel directly. So I think DD (National) must be trying the same model out, which is workable and there is no loss in revenue. There are producers in the south (India) who do that with Sun Network.”
“Potential” seems to be something which everyone can agree upon which the national channel has, but in terms of converting it into viewership which are on par with private competitors is something yet to be seen. Though they have introduced many new programs on the channel recently, excluding a few, these shows definitely seem far from the revamping that channel needs in order to become a competitive channel.