Despite claiming the largest share on television, Hindi mass entertainment has always been subject to predictions of fall. Experts stick to this in 2005 as well, stating that a steady graph, inspite of the year seeing some of the most expensive properties coming on air, indicates the battle getting tougher for this genre.
Channels Score Card
In terms of ratings, 2005 doesn’t deliver any shocking trends for the Hindi general entertainment channels (GEC). All channels maintained their shares through the first half. If the all-day performance is seen, STAR Plus leads with a sizeable distance. In 2004, the channel had seen a decline in numbers, but 2005 sees it throwing a steady graph.
Plus has grabbed more than 52 per cent relative channel shares throughout the year. The beginning of 2005 sees more of the early 50 percentages, but nearing the sixth month, the channel stays above the 58-per cent mark. What shouldn’t be forgotten is that the year has seen Plus take major initiatives like Kkavyanjali and Miilee to arrest the fall of the 9.00 pm slot – as per ratings, these have only retained numbers that grow them.
Shailja Kejriwal, Creative Director, STAR Plus is happy with the run. “STAR Plus is throwing numbers incomparable to most channels and that is difficult to maintain,” she said. Speaking more on the present content strategy, Kejriwal said, “We have returned to the basics in our story telling, cutting out the occasional spike of celebrities and dance numbers.”
Regarding the performance of new shows, she said, “The top running shows on Plus primetime have very strong roots. This is not the case with the new shows – they still have to become a part of the family of the viewer. Given that, these shows are still in the top five or six across channels every week.”
She further explained that the initiatives seen so far were maintaining numbers, but with the initiatives planned for weekends and new shows in the pipeline, Plus would look better than ever before.
Among the new shows that are coming on the channel is Le Jayenge Le Jayenge, which will replace the weak 8.00 pm band in September, and another initiative, Mum, Hum aur Tum, which will also be launched around the same period and is planned for the 7.30 pm slot.
The lowest week for Plus – week 10 – is directly corresponding to the best week for Sony Entertainment Television, the number two player. The channel aired Indian Idol this week, which gave it a 20 per cent share of the GEC market. Barring this, Sony had a share of 16-9 per cent of the GEC market, with the beginning of the first half looking better than the last three months. The last few weeks saw a dip for Sony, courtesy programmes like Kkusum and Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin not delivering their regular numbers and Fame Gurukul making a slow start.
Zee TV is the clear third player in the genre. The year saw substantial action coming from the Zee stable as well, with the introduction of early primetime initiatives like Sinndoor and then Sarrkkar and recently, Time Bomb, the revamped version of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. More is in store from the channel with the forthcoming Rabba Ishq Na Hove.
Zee TV, too, has maintained its audience. Until week 13, the channel experienced marginal differences seeing a steady run averaging at 15 per cent. The period hence also doesn’t see much change, except for the occasional spikes that weeks 14, 18 and 24 throw up, which take it to18 per cent, narrowing the distance with Sony. Week 28 saw Zee at 14 per cent and Sony at 15.8 per cent, which makes the share of the fourth player – Sahara One TV – a distant number four at 8 per cent in the week.
However, week 28 has thrown some of the best numbers for Sahara One and the reason can be seen in the sudden delivery of its primetime programme Woh Rehne Waali Mehlon Ki. The channel otherwise has seen an almost horizontal graph through the year, not increasing more than 6.5 per cent and not falling below 5 per cent.
STAR Utsav, which completed a year on June 7, and SAB TV share the fifth slot, with both channels offering hardly any difference in performance.
Media mulls on mass
When the primetime performance of these channels are observed, the trends are the same. The only difference that creeps up is the distance between Sony and Zee TV. Another point that emerges is that, every time a mass channel sees an increase, in most cases another mass channel sees a decline. Consequently, the genre hasn’t seen an increase in the last six months.
The first 10 weeks keep the genre above 32 per cent of television. Week 11 to week 17 take it below the 30-per cent mark only to increase again in the following weeks. For some this might be good news but for some it isn’t.
Nandini Dias, Vice-President, Lodestar Media, said, “Investments and initiatives have increased, but numbers haven’t. GECs know that niche is taking viewership more and more every year and they are fighting hard to keep their shares.”
She pointed out that despite all kinds of marketing activities, niche channels were pulling viewers. Raj Gupta, President, Insight, also thought on similar lines. Quoting some more data, he said, “In any genre, the first signs of change come from the upper SEC and youth TG, and if IRS data is seen, the change has already begun.”
Citing more data, Gupta said that the time spent on TV had been declining by 15 per cent year-on-year, and this was something that broadcasters and advertisers had to watch out for. However, according to him, it was not other genres that were benefiting, but other mediums. “This TG is spending time on new media like the Internet, mobiles and even out of home. In the process, mainline channels are affected the most and going forward, this trend will accentuate some more,” he explained.
Experts believe that it is a matter of time before mass channels lose ground, but in the current state of affairs, they are a must in most media plans.