Continuing with the overview of the Hindi general entertainment genre in 2008, in the second part of this report, exchange4media finds from industry players about what worked and what didn’t work in 2008, as well as the way ahead and key drivers in 2009.
2008: The year that was
Despite being a tumultuous year for the broadcast industry, 2008 is being as a year with several positive developments for the industry. Keertan Adyanthaya, EVP and GM, Star India, observed, “In 2008, Hindi GECs saw a lot of action with the launch of new channels, three weeks of repeats on air during the standoff between FWICE and the producers, which benefited none. The workers didn’t get the hike they had asked for and were asked to go on forced leave, producers had a hard time bearing the cost of standing sets and incidentals, channels lost viewers and incurred cost of infrastructure, viewers also had no entertainment. Everybody lost in this unfortunate period due to the greed of a few vested interests. And last but not the least, the year 2008 witnessed the end of three K shows – ‘Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’, ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii’ and ‘Kasauti Zindagi Kay’.”
Zee TV’s Business Head, Tarun Mehra, noted, “It’s been a great year for us at Zee TV. We’ve had a lot of challenging moments with the launch of new GECs and also with viewers asking for differentiated content. We launched our new channel packaging that highlights every Indian woman in her various moods and nuances. This woman is rooted in tradition and is able to mix with her family while being contemporary at the same time. She is the centre of the universe, but regards her family as the source of inspiration. The new look of the channel received a lot of positive response from the viewers.”
Rajesh Kamat, CEO, Colors, said, “We are now a six-month old channel, and if you see the last 10 weeks’ ratings, we were on No. 2 position consistently. It’s been a dream opening for us. We started off with about 10 advertisers and today we have 165-175 advertisers on board, and this number is only growing.”
Terming 2008 as a ‘pretty good year’, Danish Khan, Head of Marketing, SET India, added, “We brought some big property like ‘Dus ka Dum’ and ‘Indian Idol’ in 2008, which worked very well in our favour. Even old properties like ‘CID’ and ‘Boogie Woogie’ remain leaders in their slots. Comedy shows have also worked very well for Sony TV this year.”
Anooj Kapoor, Senior VP and Business Head of SAB, told exchange4media, “2008 has been a fantastic year for SAB. As a channel we have grown 50 per cent in all day ratings from around 30 in August to 44 this week. In prime time, we have grown by 90 per cent, from around 10 GRPs in August to 19 GRPs in prime time this week. This has happened due to our innovation in programming, where we have for the first time in India coined the concept of daily family comedy with a linear storyline. Our growth has also happened due to our new marketing campaign ‘Asli Mazaa Sab Ke Saath Aata Hai’, which drives home our brand promise. We are confident of achieving a 30 per cent growth in revenues in the short term.”
The road ahead in 2009
Most of the Hindi GECs’ plans are to consolidate, introduce more fresh content, and differentiated content in 2009. Adyanthaya said, “In 2009, we will have to learn to operate on lean costs and maintain lean businesses. It is about a running a tight ship without spending profligately. Our main aim as a channel is to entertain our viewers. And, therefore, we are looking at building endearing shows like ‘Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat’, ‘Aap Ki Kachehri’, ‘Bidaai’, and so on.”
Likewise, Mehra too said, “2009 promises to be even more challenging than the year gone by. To begin the year, we have a few launches scheduled in January like ‘Maa’, ‘Monica Mogre’ and ‘Dance India Dance’.”
Kamat maintained, “There is still potential in our existing shows and, therefore, our plans for 2009 would be to consolidate the existing shows. You will also see the launch of weekend shows on the channel.”
SET India’s Khan informed that they would have a lot of fiction as well as non-fiction shows targeted at the younger generation. “There will be a variety of content on the channel, which would be completely different from previous years,” he claimed.
Commenting on SAB’s plans, Kapoor said, “In 2009 we shall continue to grow by attracting more eyeballs through our fresh and innovative programmes like India’s first horror comedy and India’s first hospital comedy, while building more viewership for our daily comedy strips through creating more awareness and conveying the obvious to the consumers that it is a better idea to spend primetime laughing with your entire family by watching SAB rather than crying alone by watching other GECs.”
Growth drivers in 2009
According to Mehra, the growth driver for 2009 would be ‘differentiated content’. “We also feel reality television will be equally popular, buy only if created in the right way. For instance, our ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’, which continues to rule the roost despite competition trying to simulate the concept,” he added.
According to Kapoor, “The broadcast business will be driven by better and fresh content since too many players have entered into various businesses, and only those who deliver consistently good and fresh content shall survive. Cost effective solutions would have to be found in order to drive business during recession. New models in programming and ad sales may evolve to facilitate growth despite low investment. Innovation all across will be the key.”
Hindi GECs confident of beating the odds in 2009 – Part 1