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Is Friday a dry-day for Hindi mass entertainment channels?

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Is Friday a dry-day for Hindi mass entertainment channels?

Four days of the week – Monday to Thursday, ratings on Hindi and South serials go almost neck-to-neck. As we keep on reporting on a regular basis, top shows on Hindi telly deliver ratings close to 16-17. In case of South channels, a few shows have ratings even beyond 25. But, by and large, the ratings can be compared to the ones being drawn by Hindi channels.

However Fridays have a different story to tell – while in South markets most channels have more or less similar TVR as the weekday during prime time, in Hindi it is not so.

Prime Time numbers: South vs. Hindi mass entertainment

Let us look at the prime time TVRs generated by mass entertainment channels from Monday to Thursday and then on Friday.

In Karnataka, it is almost same with weekdays at 9.43 and Friday at 9.45 for mass entertainment channels. If we look at total TVR (inclusive of all Telugu channels) for the two durations – it is 27.26 and 26.04 respectively.

Kerala shows a similar pattern with 11.78 and 11.54 for the weekdays and Friday for mass entertainment channels. When it comes to total TVR, ratings are 20.34 and 20.55 for the two durations. Andhra has a similar flow with mass entertainment ratings at 12.46 and 12.97 and total TVR at 26.41 and 25.53 for other weekdays and Friday respectively.

A look at Tamil Nadu now, where Friday ratings are actually higher than weekdays – for mass channels they increase from 16.43 to 17.21 and as for total TVRs, they increase marginally from 24.19 to 24.82.

On to the Hindi speaking markets now: For the mass entertainment channels prime time ratings fall from 16.84 on weekdays to 10.82 on Fridays. There is a sizeable drop in total TVRs too – from 28.25 to 24.65.

Time to have a bird’s eye view of programming now. While as far as mass Hindi entertainment channels are concerned, the daily soaps run from Monday to Thursday – that is not the case as far as South channels are concerned. Dailies run even on Fridays.

Let us observe Andhra Pradesh first. Top shows on Friday are ‘Ninne Pilladata’, ‘Kkalavaarikkodalu’, ‘Kavyanjali’, ‘Jaanaki’, ‘Enda Maa Vulu’ and ‘Sarvamangala’. Four of them (barring the first and last) are dailies and if we look at their total delivery in the last 16 weeks – it is better than the other two.

As for Karntaka, all the top shows barring none are dailies – among them ‘Crime Diary’, ‘Mahaamaayi’, ‘Crime Story’, ‘Moodala Mane’, ‘Eshwari’ and ‘Silli Lalli’.

A look at Tamil Nadu now. Here the top shows are ‘Metty Oli’, ‘Annamalai’, ‘Thirai Vimarsanam Kungkumam’ and ‘Comedy Time’ – each one of them is a daily.

For the Hindi segment, in case of all the channels the Friday programming is different from other days – weeklies in all cases.

Hindi mass entertainment channels present their case

The question here is – is the five-day daily serial strategy being deployed by South channels giving better dividends than the four-day daily serial strategy adopted by Hindi mass entertainment channels? Is there a difference in psychographics and behavioural patterns of the viewers in the South and Hindi speaking markets, which has led to these different strategies?

States Apurva Purohit, COO, Times Television, “Not true. There is no such difference in psychographics or behavioural patterns. It is not that people in South sit at home on Fridays and those in Hindi speaking markets go out. It is just a matter of different strategies being adopted by the South mass entertainment channels.”

Second question is whether the strategy being adopted by Hindi mass entertainment channels is as effective as that being adopted by South mass entertainment channels? Hindi channels are unanimous here that it is working as well – as a strategy needs to be looked against an objective and not in isolation. States Tarun Katial, EVP, Programming and Response, SET India: “Hindi channels provide variety entertainment starting from Friday – which appeals to an inclusive but another set of audiences. These viewers are equally important and might prefer different programming – they cannot be ignored.”

Adds Deepak Segal, Senior VP, Content and Communication, STAR India, “Hindi mass channels have always followed a Monday-to-Thursday model for their daily soaps which seems to have worked extremely well across many examples and time-slots. Also, Hindi mass channels like STAR Plus offer differentiated programming on Fridays, which is away from their theme of weekday programming (viz. drama).”

Reflecting further on the requirement of differentiated programming on Friday, Segal states, “This comes from the key consumer need of watching something different towards the weekend and not the conventional emotional fare. Strategically speaking too, such programming gives the much-needed variety and flair to the channel mix. Extending the dailies to Fridays will kill some of this variety and might prove to be an overkill.”

The strategy might be to lure in a different set of audiences. But the ratings here, calculated on 4+ ABC C&S markets indicate that there is an overall fall in the ratings. It is not that one set of TG is giving way to another one in a big way – even if it is happening to some extent – does it makeup for overall drop in TRPs?

As per Katial, for Sony, a different set of programming for Friday is working. He states, “Sony has a high percentage of male audiences on Friday for shows like ‘CID’ and ‘Crime Petrol’. For us, it is important to get a variety of audiences and a larger reach rather than just monopolising one set of audiences. Both are important to us.”

Segal agrees with Katial. He states, “While you may see our Friday ratings as a drop over our Monday-Thursday ratings, we are extremely pleased about the way our Friday line-up has been performing since more than the last two and a half years. Programmes like ‘Khullja Sim Sim’, ‘Ssshhhh... Koi Hai...’, ‘Shararat’ have achieved peak ratings of over 10 TVRs over this period. New launches like ‘Hatim’ have also met with tremendous success.”

Purohit also believes that variety adds a punch to the channel. “A break in programming is important. It adds zing to programming and provides options. I am not sure whether the strategy adopted by most South channels is right or not, however research shows that people miss on fiction during weekends, and a good fiction show on weekends delivers.”

Katial and Segal both however are of the opinion that whether it is fiction or non-fiction – a good programme works. To quote Segal, “we believe that both fiction and non-fiction work equally well on Fridays, as long as the show provides variety entertainment which is lighter on the senses compared to mainstream dramas. Content that is ideal for starting off a really nice, relaxed weekend.”

Hindi mass entertainment channels believe that with the same serial playing day after day, viewer fatigue sets in. States Purohit, “Too much of the same thing, however good it is, might become cumbersome.” Katial endorses, “Yes, fatigue would definitely set in.”

The stalwarts of Hindi mass entertainment television have a point – divergent programming does attract a few new viewers – more men or youngsters might indeed be coming on. But is the fall in 4+ C&S ABC ratings small enough to be ignored or does the Friday programming strategy need a re-look? One might also argue would it really be too much of daily fare if dailies are extended up to Friday and weekend programming – fiction and non-fiction reserved for weekends, not only just the prime time but throughout the day?

Having said that a look at the profile of brands present on these channels on weekdays and Fridays might just endorse their strategy. Or, just might not.

(TAM ratings calculated on C&S, ABC 4+, Prime Time (8.30 to 11.30 pm), average of week 1-16, 2004)


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