The 8-pm slot – both on weekdays and weekends, suddenly seems to attract substantial actions. While Sony Entertainment Television has planned to introduce two new initiatives in its 8 pm to 9 pm band in weekdays, STAR India gets ready to launch a new half-hour daily, ‘Dekho, Magar Pyaar Se’ for the 8-pm slot. Interestingly, both the channels had planned for a mid-July launch of their new shows.
‘Dekho…’ is an adaptation, made for light viewing, without a focus on any particular age group. The STAR Plus 8-pm band consists of half-hour weeklies, which have delivered for the channel. All these lead to the well-established ‘Kasautii Zindagi Kay’ at 8.30 pm. Launch of the new show would take the channel to replace all these weeklies. While the new show wraps up three shows – ‘Krishna Arjun’, ‘Khichdi’ and ‘Kyun Hota Hai Pyaar’, ‘Sonpari’ moves to a weekend 7.30-pm slot.
In its current stage on Indian television, the 8-pm band cannot be considered as a very strong one. “It is one of the more fickle bands,” believes Gautam Rajagopal of Starcom. Ratings thrown up endorse his view. If the weekly average channel share for the CS 4+ is seen in the Hindi speaking markets, in the running year itself, mass entertainment has recorded a plunge.
In the period between week 1 to 11, STAR has played anywhere between a TVR of 6.53 and 8.48. However, the maximum dip it has recorded after that period is 5.96. The channel’s graph steadily declines. Similar is the case with Sony. While until week 9, Sony gives Zee TV a fight for the number-two slot, following that it is the constant number three, with the exception of week 23 and 25, when both Sony and Zee registered similar figures.
“The band is not really a weak one,” says Nandini Dias, National Media Director, Interface Communication, “But the other bands are so strong and since TV viewing habit is pushed at later hours with ‘Kahaani…’ and ‘Kyunki….’ eyeballs here have steadily decreased.”
However, it is after a considerable time that Sony and STAR are launching new shows in the same slot. As was the case with ‘Ye Meri Life Hai’, where Sony had moved the planned launch date from April 26 to May 3, for the two new serials also, the channel has deferred the launch time from mid-July to early August, and so has STAR.
“The August launch makes sense from advertising point of view. The channel will have a fair idea of which of their respective programmes is delivering by festive season and they know what they will market and how will they charge their properties in that period,” explains Dias.
Both the stripped programmes either would hit the tube on the same day or a week before or after the other. “I don’t think which one comes in first really makes the difference,” says Rajagopal, “What matters is the content. If it’s good enough, irrespective of the channel, the audience will stay.”
With STAR inducing change in its programming and Sony bringing in more original content, the development of the 8-pm slot would be meaningful for Indian television. Needless to say that with both the shows launching at the same time and the given potential of the slot, it would be interesting to see what kind of audience will the channels be able to woo.