Time bands have played a significant role for Hindi general entertainment channels in targetting different audience groups. Though the 8 PM to 10 PM slot continues to be of primary interest, Hindi GECs have been experimenting with different time slots such as early prime time, late prime time as well as the afternoon slot in order to bring about freshness in their overall programming and content strategy.
It may be recalled that Zee TV launched two shows – ‘Apno Ke Liye…Geeta Ka Dharma Yudha’ and Bhagonwali...Baante Apni Taqdeer’ – in the early prime time band of 6 PM to 7 PM in 2010. Star Plus also introduced ‘Sabki Laadli Bebo’ in the 6.30 PM time slot, whereas two of its fiction shows – ‘Kali - Ek Agnipariksha’ and ‘Maryada – Lekin Kab Tak?’ – were launched at 11 PM and 11.30 PM, respectively, in September 2010 .
The channel also experimented with the afternoon slot in 2009 when it launched ‘Phool Kamal Ke’, ‘Shradhha’ and ‘Star Vivaah’ in the 1 PM to 2.30 PM time band. Thereafter, Colors launched its afternoon programming from 1.30 PM to 2.30 PM, called ‘Saanjhi Dopahar’, on February 15, 2010 with two shows in this time band – ‘Agnipareeksha Jeevan Ki… Ganga’, and ‘Aise Na Karo Vida’.
However, though most of the channels have experimented with different time bands from time to time, they have mostly stuck to the prime time band. So, what drives the match between the content and the time band?
Correct match between content and time band
According to Prashant Bhatt, Weekday Programming Head, Colors, the placement of a show largely depends on the content and the target audiences. If the show appeals to a younger set of audience, it will be put on an early time slot, whereas if the content is more aggressive and caters to a more matured audience, it will be suitable for a late prime slot.
Bhatt further said, “The other factors include geography (if the show targets a specific region or is city centric), genre of the show, its positioning, treatment, audience flow, competition scenario, channel’s FPC, etc.”
The right match between a show and its time slot is also dependent on the availability of the target audience as per the specific positioning that one is looking at achieving for the show.
Early prime time Vs late prime time
Currently, both Zee TV and Star Plus have four and a half hours or 270 minutes of fresh programming on weekdays, while Colors and Sony Entertainment Television have three and a half hours or 210 minutes of fresh content on weekdays.
Star Plus recently launched ‘Ek Ghar Banaunga’ on the early prime time band of 6.30 PM. According to data sourced from TAM subscribers for CS 4+, HSM markets, ‘Ek Ghar Banaunga’ garnered 1 TVR in Week 25 and 0.8 TVR in Week 24.
Apart from Star Plus, Zee TV airs ‘Houswife Sab Jaanti Hai’ on the 7 PM time slot, while both Colors and Sony Entertainment Television commence their original programming at 7.30 PM with ‘Sasural Simar Ka’ and ‘Dil Ki Nazar Se Khoobsurat’, respectively. It may be recalled that Colors introduced ‘Jai Jag Janani Maa Durga’ in the 7 PM time slot some time ago. But while the 6.30 PM to 7.30 PM time slot continues to be quite popular, the post 11 PM time band has observed a distinct lull with only Zee TV airing ‘Fear Files’.
Elaborating on the same, Nikhil Madhok, Vice President - Marketing, Star Plus stated, "TV is penetrating deeper into India everyday and new viewers are getting added. A large chunk of them start their viewership much earlier in the day and hence we feel that the 6:30 PM slot has a lot of untapped potential. As the leading entertainment channel, the task of expanding the category lies with us and that what’s we are attempting to do with ‘Ek Ghar Banaunga’.”
Slightly deviating from the same, Bhatt believes while the early prime time is a viable band for fiction shows catering especially to the smaller towns, the late prime time band is more conducive to urban programming. This maps to the lifestyle of people from the respective strata of towns. The post 11 PM slot helps offer a repeat to the viewers for them to catch up on whatever they have missed.
Viability of the afternoon slot?
Colors had earlier introduced original afternoon programming back in 2010. In its opening week, ‘Agnipareeksha Jeevan Ki… Ganga’ got 1.17 TVR (CS 4+), while ‘Aise Na Karo Vida’ got 1.32 TVR (CS 4+). And in the CS 25+ Female TG, which is the core group for afternoon viewership, ‘Agnipareeksha Jeevan Ki... Ganga’ got 1.97 TVR and ‘Aise Na Karo Vida’ got 2.15 TVR.
Apart from Colors, Star Plus was the only Hindi GEC to have original programming in its afternoon slot. The show, ‘Hamari Devrani’, clocked average ratings of 2.86 TVR (CS 25+ Female), while ‘Raja Ki Aayegi Baarat’ garnered an average rating of 2.64 TVR (CS 25+ Female).
It has been observed that though the shows managed to garner decent TVRs, not much has been seen on the weekday afternoon band since then.
Commenting on viability of afternoon slots, Bhatt stated, “Opening up the afternoon slot depends on two main factors – firstly, the viewer need-gap, and secondly, the potential RoI that can be generated from original programming at that slot. The afternoon slot has a very loyal set of audiences and has worked for us in the past.”
Continuous fresh programming in weekends, opening of the Sunday 11 AM time band
Apart from these, players in the Hindi GEC space have also started experimenting with newer time bands. Star Plus experimented with the Sunday 11 AM time slot with ‘Satyamev Jayate’ last year, which was followed by Zee TV launching ‘Ramayan’ in the Sunday morning slot, inherently paving the way for a new time band, which for long was considered redundant. It may also be recalled that after the immense popularity of ‘Satyamev Jayate’, Star Plus also launched ‘Lakhon Mein Ek’ in a bid to keep up the momentum.
Also, it has been observed that post the Indian Premier League (IPL), most of the players in the Hindi GEC space have launched reality-based talent hunt shows in their weekend primetime slots. Deviating from the same, Life OK on June 2, 2013 carried out an experiment, wherein it telecast content from 6 PM to 12 AM instead of the usual time slots.
Elaborating on the same, Ajit Thakur, General Manager, Life OK said, “We stuck to the whole thing about thrillers, fantasies, etc. We aired a two-hour movie of ‘Savdhaan’ at 6 PM, backed up the maha-episode of ‘Mahadev’, ‘Shapath - UP Fights Back’, etc. The channel received an amazing response, which translated to channel leading on Sunday that week and ahead of everybody else.”
On the back of that, Life Ok had undertaken a 12 PM to 12 AM programming initiative on June 23, 2013. The channel showcased 12 hours of programming content focusing on the core assets and strengths of the channel comprising ‘Savdhaan’ maha movie, ‘Savdhaan - UP Fights Back’, big episode of ‘Shapath’, ‘Mahadev’ maha-episode ,as well as the launch of a new show on Saturday, titled ‘Police Dial 100’, as part of their content strategy for the weekend.