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Weak weekends: Channels not worried, planners are

06-May-2004
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Weak weekends: Channels not worried, planners are

If 2003 meant weekend problems and the period that followed witnessed various programming initiatives to alter the scene, the current scenario still does not mean weekend evolution. Given that of the five big launches on STAR and Sony in 2004, three are on weekends, indicates that the channels are hell-bent on luring the weekend audience. Are the efforts successful?

Beginning with the first of the three new launches, Balaji Telefilms’ Kkehna Hai Kuch Mujhko, Friday – Sunday, 30 minute soap, opened to 2 plus figures. However, moving towards later March and April, the highest rating it saw is 1.78. Following closely was STAR’s Koie…, which hit the tube on March 14. The weekly occupied the Sunday 9.00 pm slot and opened to 2 plus ratings. The show, however, has not been able to go beyond 2.5 on any given Sunday since.

Saaksshi made its way on Sony on April 10, 2004. The Saturday 9.00 pm weekly opened to 1.97 figures, which moved on to a 1.98 and currently stands at April 24, 2004’s 2.29. Too small a rise to get really excited!

“The weekend has a very disloyal audience. Judging by the initiatives and the results, it seems that there really aren’t people sitting home just to watch TV. You have to give them something they can walk in and walk out of and that kind of flirting will not distort your storyline,” expresses Deepak Segal, Sr. VP, Content and Communication, Star India.

Explaining his point further, he says, “Looking at Kesar in our afternoon slot, getting 6+, it is clear that the traditional technique of weekday programming pays off. The channel must work on getting good original programmes there. Compare that with the current launches on other channels and you see what I mean.”

Throwing more light on this, he says, “Channels have indulged in trying to get a more loyal weekend audience. But the strategy has not given them the mileage despite the marketing and hype.”

Tarun Katial, EVP, Programming and Response, SET however, has a different point of view on that. Says he, “Weekend definitely has scope for differentiated programming. Kkehna… could have done better but it is a contemporary product and it will take people time to adjust. Nonetheless, it has won loads of critical acclaim. It is a cutting edge concept and it must get its due.”

Speaking on Saaksshi, he says, “Saaksshi is picking up and has rated better than any other current weekend launch. That in itself speaks volumes about performances. We are into proactively creating and implementing our weekend strategies, not commenting on anyone else’s.”

The new shows are quite a problem at hand for the channels. Segal explains that the channel is pushing Koie…’s storyline as far as possible. However, if the programme does not deliver, the channel will not hesitate in changing the show either. As for Kkehna, Sony is trying various ways to increase the sampling like the weekday repeats following the new show Yeh….

If the media verdict is anything to go by, the weekend disappointment is across the scene. “None of the weekend shows have performed,” states Amol Dighe, Investment Director, MindShare Fulcrum, “For Kkehna, we were expecting a consistent 2 plus ratings. So that is a disappointment. However, STAR is not really a disappointment as when they moved their entire line up to Sunday, we expected a fall.”

“I wouldn’t call it a disappointment per se, as for me it has to make sense in terms of rates,” elucidates C R Mallikarjundas, Media Director, Starcom, “But on that count too, these programmes are not up to the mark. They have to start delivering better if they have to make any cost efficiency sense.”

Partho Ghosh, Vice President, The Media Edge too echoes the same line, “It is apparent that the channels are just not able to control their weekend programming. The software has to change. It is a given that the weekend viewership is flattish in nature. Bearing that, they should probably be looking at content that is more mass in nature.”

“The shows are not even generating the threshold viewership, let alone the inorganic benefits,” puts in Mallikarjundas. “The weekend programming is still a big question mark,” concludes Dighe.

The shows right now might not be delivering on weekends, however with three days out of seven being part of weekend programming channels can’t really ignore them. Battle for these slots – if anything, is going to get worse. Watch this space for regular updates.

(Ratings calculated on the Hindi Speaking Market for the target C&S 4+)

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