The Hindi general entertainment genre has many reasons to celebrate the last few months. The investments that key players were making in the genre are finally showing results. Star Plus toppling Colors twice in a row, and the narrow gap between the top three channels – Star Plus, Colors and Zee TV – reiterates that there is no clear leader in the genre, but a situation of three on top – the so-called Big Boys’ League of Hindi GEC.
The second quarter of 2009 had the top GECs averaging between 220 GRPs and 250 GRPs. The third quarter of the year saw Colors record some all-time high ratings that even went as high as 326-340 GRPs. Barring a few instances, Star Plus and Zee TV were not far behind, and 260 GRPs to 280 GRPs from these channels were no longer surprising. The end of the year told a similar ratings story. And the beginning of 2010 accentuated this positive trend. The 300-GRP mark that once made headlines had become common in the last few weeks.
While this is the story on top, the next tier also has growth graphs to show. Channels like Sony Entertainment Television and Imagine TV have worked on staying ahead of the 100-GRP mark. SAB has given enough competition to Imagine TV in some of the weeks gone by, and with its new initiatives in establishing itself as a clear comedy content channel in the genre, SAB has been delivering numbers as high as 70-90 GRPs.
Speaking on the overall media scenario, GroupM’s Prasanth Kumar noted, “The Hindi GEC genre has been growing in the last two years, in fact, and the growth was more pronounced last year. The end of 2007, leading up to 2008, saw the entry of new channels, and at one level, this has allowed the genre to grow.”
From six channels in 2007, there were 10 Hindi GECs in 2008. However, Zee’s second channel, ZeeNext, and 9X dropped out of the picture soon. Real was launched in 2009 by the Turner-Alva Brothers JV, but immediately scaled down operations when it was unable to make a dent in the fiercely competitive Hindi GE genre. Within a span of a year hence, the Hindi GE genre witnessed a shake up as well.
At a parallel level, some of the other high GRP genres lost steam. Divya Radhakrishnan, President, TME, pointed out that the Hindi movies genre was high on that list. She explained, “The Hindi movie channels were abusing ad-content ratio. That, coupled with the growth of multiplexes and new titles coming on Hindi GECs, just as quickly saw audiences moving out of channels like Zee Cinema. MAX had upped the cricket content on the channel, and hence, lost on the steady movie audience that it was drawing. This brought family GRPs back in the market, and Hindi GECs lapped that up.”
In the last one year, Hindi GECs have been making substantial investments in programming, marketing and distribution. It would be fair to say that the ratings for week 10 (latest TAM week) were a result of these investments. Not only did the top three channels air specials of their top shows, but they had special properties like movies and awards too.
The week on week results of the genre may not be clear – with tracks like lead protagonist of Colors’ top rated show ‘Balika Vadhu’ dying, chances are that Colors may reclaim its No. 1 position in week 11, or Star Plus may manage to pull another string in its top content, or may even drop to No. 3 spot, letting Zee TV slide up, as the cliché goes, anything can happen. The one thing though that is clear is that Hindi general entertainment channels are very serious and focused right – the increased competition has only meant good news for the genre, and for television per se.