Even as Star Plus, STAR India’s flagship channel, maintains a firm lead in the Hindi general entertainment space, the channel is behind competitor Sony Entertainment Television in its weekend band. In 2012, despite big-ticket shows such as ‘Survivor’ being aired on Star Plus weekends, the channel has not been able to attract enough viewers. The channel has fallen behind Zee TV and Colors as well on weekends.
One of the first significant steps from Star Plus to arrest its falling weekends is seen in the form of the much anticipated Aamir Khan show, ‘Satyamev Jayate’. The show will be aired in the Sunday morning 11.00 am band, a space that has not seen enough experimentation on television after mythological success of ‘Mahabharata’ in the late 80s.
Challenges of the weekend
STAR India’s COO Sanjay Gupta explained that weekend programming is a challenge for most channels. In the case of Star Plus, until last year, when the channel had shows such as ‘Master Chef’ and ‘Just Dance’, the weekend performance was “good” but since December 2011, the channel faced issues in the weekend slot.
The Star experience has been that weekend brings a different audience quality, with all family members at home and therefore a balance across TGs. “Hindi general entertainment per se is witnessing a situation, where content relevance and the entertainment factor of weekend is not high. If you compare the highpoint of a weekday show, which can be anywhere between a 5-6 TVR or more, weekend highs are in the area of 2-3 TVR. At present, we are not able to provide wholesome entertainment on weekends like we do on our weekdays and we see this as a serious challenge,” added Gupta.
Sony Entertainment, with its weekly dose of shows such as ‘Adaalat’, ‘CID’, ‘Comedy Circus’ and ‘Crime Patrol’, has managed to create a loyal base of weekend viewers. This has played a crucial role in improving Sony’s overall performance.
Weekend is very high on Star Plus’ present agenda. “We want to bring shows that will connect with viewers so that weekend can contribute towards widening our gap with the next best in the genre and take us to new highs once again,” said Gupta. STAR is hoping for ‘Satyamev Jayate’ to be such a show.
Satyamev Jayate’s moment of truth
STAR has invested significantly in ‘Satyamev Jayate’, not only in the cost of making the show but also in ensuring that it has significant reach. “This is perhaps the first show in the history of television that would, on a weekly basis, be shown across nine channels. This show must reach out to everyone. Apart from STAR channels, it would also be shown on Doordarshan and ETV Telugu,” informed Gupta.
‘Satyamev Jayate’ will be aired in Hindi on Star Plus, Star Utsav and DD1. DD1 has been added to ensure terrestrial households have access to the show too. It would be aired in English on Star World and then in languages such as Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu on Star Jalsha, Star Pravah, Asianet, Star Vijay and ETV Telugu.
Will TV ratings be the barometer to measure the success of the show? “It would be very difficult to predict ratings for a show such as ‘Satyamev Jayate’. The show is unprecedented on many levels. Star Plus has experimented in the past with shows such as ‘Master Chef’, ‘Just Dance’, ‘Aap ki Kachehri’ and so on to bring out new emotions on television. ‘Satyamev Jayate’ takes this to a new level. The amount of work – both from Aamir Khan and STAR – that has gone in understanding the viewer, working out a different thought process for the show, the presentation and such details has never been done before. This is a new genre altogether that we will bring to television,” replied Gupta.
One key reason to air ‘Satyamev Jayate’ in the morning band was the nature of the show. There is a certain expectation in evening programming and the current fare on television is skewed towards music and dance format shows. ‘Satyamev Jayate’s attempt is to bring out a different set of emotions. “The mindset it requires is different. Also, there is nothing on Sunday mornings right now and our attempt is to bring something apt for the viewers in this time band,” added Gupta.
Even though Star is hoping ‘Satyamev Jayate’ can add to its flagship channel’s weekends but the presence on nine channels can impact the ratings of the show. Weekend has traditionally been Sony’s strength but there is enough evidence to point that a weekend viewer can be swayed easily. The question is whether Star would be able to crack weekend programming in the manner that it has worked on its weekday fare.