In a bid to attract and retain viewer interest, GECs are increasingly letting viewers get more and more involved with their various offerings – from selecting the name of a show to deciding on the lead protagonist after a leap in time. exchange4media takes a look at how Colors and Zee are whipping up viewer interest.
Colors’ show ‘Balika Vadhu’ is set to take a time leap and the channel is letting the viewers decide on which of the three actresses shown should become the grown up Anandi, one of television’s most popular characters. Viewers can vote for the new Anandi via SMS.
Similarly, Zee is inviting viewers to suggest the title of its new show. The channel is sharing the basic premise of the show on various media such as television, radio, and its website. The viewers will also be given the choice to decide from among three creatives for an outdoor hoarding of the show.
Commenting on this trend, Ashvini Yardi, Programming Head, Colors, said that the channel had started this trend and other channels would follow suit. Throwing more light on the audience feedback on this activity, Yardi said, “We have given the audience enough time to get used to the fact that there will be a change in Anandi’s character. However, such an activity can’t be with any other character as Anandi is immensely popular.”
Talking about the viability of involving the audience in programming decisions, Akash Chawla, Marketing Head, Zee TV, said, “As a channel, we always make it a point to take the audience’s response to our shows into cognizance. There is a deluge of mails every single day with suggestions and feedback on the plots of our shows and we have always taken them into account.”
Sharing specific incidents in the past, Chawla said that the marriage ceremony of Manav and Archana (the main protagonists of ‘Pavitra Rishta’) was thrown open to the masses to attend and witness. Another example that he shared was of Jagrata on the sets of ‘12/ 24 Karol Bagh’, wherein the masses were invited to join the cast of the show in their prayers.
Talking about the GECs’ strategy, Sushma Y Jhaveri, Senior Vice President, Carat Media India noted that such marketing strategies worked for a channel to a large extent. “It is almost like choosing your own ‘Indian Idol’ or a reality show winner. It makes a difference because audiences are involved,” she added. Jhaveri further pointed out that transparency was important. “In the case of ‘Balika Vadhu’, they need to talk about the number of votes for and against the winner candidate, and in case of Zee, they should do an adequate winner announcement campaign,” she stressed.
Besides the regular TRPs, the success of such marketing campaigns can be measured through the amount of entries that are received. According to Jhaveri, “In the case of ‘Balika Vadhu’, the opening TVRs are likely to be high due to the excitement and intrigue around a grown up Anandi, irrespective of the contest. But yes, it builds consumer connect and better loyalty for the programme. I am not sure if it’s the same for Zee.”
The GEC battle was never an easy one, and the latest audience connect initiatives are only going to up the ante for the channels. However, it remains to be seen whether such activities will help the channels get the loyal audience base that they crave for.