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Star's 'Gulaal' gamble: Is it paying off?

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Star's 'Gulaal' gamble: Is it paying off?

It was in November 2010 that Hindi GEC Star Plus decided to bid adieu to one of its high performing primetime show, ‘Sapnaa Baabul ka… Bidaai’. The show was brought to an end after a steady performance graph in the three years of its run since it launch in October 2007.

In its three-year run, ‘Bidaai’ had moved up the ratings chart to form an integral component of the channel’s fiction offering and contributed a significant chunk to help the channel hold on to its numero uno position. It may be recalled that during 2007, Zee TV had rejuvenated its programming line-up with shows such as ‘Saat Phere’ and ‘Kasam Se’ and had come within inches of overtaking Star Plus. ‘Bidaai’ was one of the key shows that had worked for Star Plus then.

Officials from Star Plus have firmly held that the decision to discontinue ‘Bidaai’ was essential and unavoidable and that it was better to end a show when in its peak rather than on its way to a decline.

The replacement show ‘Gulaal’ however has not matched up to expectations yet. Even as the ratings of a show ending cannot be compared with that of a new show, fact remains that, as per data from TAM Media Research for C&S 4+ Hindi speaking markets, with ‘Bidaai’, the 9.00 pm slot fetched average ratings of 4 to 5 TVR (even high of 6 plus TVR) for Star Plus.

Comparatively, ‘Gulaal’ gave Star Plus 9.00 pm slot an average monthly rating of about 2.5 TVR in November, and rose to 3 TVR in the beginning of December, leading to an average of around 2.5 TVR in the month of January 2011. Audiences have yet not seemed to warm up to the story or concept of the show. The pinch in viewership ratings is noticeable, but the channel continues to keep the faith.

Speaking to exchange4media, Vivek Bahl, Executive Creative Director, STAR India, said, “‘Bidaai’ had lived its life, and the decision to replace it was right. ‘Gulaal’ is a great concept, the right show to do at the 9.00 pm slot and in my opinion, the most beautiful looking concept on television across shows currently. The manner in which it has been shot is fantastic; the direction and the characters of the show are very good. To be candid however, we may have left the story for a little late into the show. The main story is just about kicking off right now.”

Bahl explained the main story of the show is set to begin now, and the channel would support it with marketing exercise.

STAR is well aware that the going will get tougher beginning February with new launches such as Imagine TV’s heavily promoted property ‘Zor Ka Jhatka’ with host Shah Rukh Khan in the 9.00 pm slot. Bahl said, “It is very tough already. Gulaal has not caught on as yet but the story will begin only now. Two major stages in the main storyline are yet to kick off, and that can turn things around for the show.”

Star Plus has made significant progress in growing the early and late time bands. There is no denying however that 9.00 pm is core general entertainment primetime. It would be interesting to see how audiences respond to ‘Gulaal’s storyline, and what Star Plus would do if the response is not good enough.


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