The much anticipated premiere of new fiction series Yudh on Sony Entertainment Television seems to have been a disappointment with the first week ratings going below expectations. The series which marks Bollywood A-lister Amitabh Bachchan’s foray into television fiction genre only managed to garner an average rating of 1.4 TVMs according to data from TAM subscribers for week 29 (July 13 to July 19, 2014).
The channel’s ratings too witnessed a decline in the gross viewership ratings from 279 GVT in week 28 to 270 GVT in week 29. The channel which was at No. 2 spot among Hindi GEC channels has now dropped to fifth place.
The series saw numerous pre-launch marketing initiatives, which included the unveiling of a 50-feet tall poster at the Statesman house in Delhi with Amitabh Bachchan, director Anurag Kashyap and the entire crew present, the promotional activity the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) where Bachchan went in character to list his on-screen company with BSE and a heavy digital and mobile campaign, the show in its opening week has failed to catch the audience’s attention. At Rs 3 crore per episode it is one of the costliest shows on television. This coupled with the heavy marketing spends has people asking whether SET’s experiment with the show will get the eyeballs it expects ?
Celebrity quotient not a winner
Yudh which airs from Monday to Thursday at 10:30 pm will run for five consecutive weeks. It is a time slot where ‘Veera’ on Star Plus has consistently maintained its top spot with an average viewership of 6 million.
According to Tarun Nigam, Director, PM Media Solutions, “Yudh is coming at a time slot where it is pitted against Jodha Akbar and other such serials. Just because it’s got a celebrity quotient, does not mean that it will have a success element to it. Amitabh Bachchan being there does not mean that it will ensure the show’s success. Finally, it’s the storyline and the content that matters. Perhaps the storyline must not be as impressive as it could have been.”
Content not appetizing enough
Discarding the notion that a star like Amitabh Bachchan can help the show even if the content is not good, Balakrishna P.M., COO, Allied Media cites the example of the food served in a restaurant to better explain it.
“No one in their right mind can say that a star like Amitabh Bachchan has lost his charm. While you can bring them to the table but the food has to taste right and you can’t force them to eat. So here you open a great restaurant, you had a fantastic packaging and the marketing was all great but finally the food (content) has to taste right for the people to keep coming back. So if the content is not right then all the best packaging will not work,” he explained.
Similarly, Mallikarjun Das, CEO India, Starcom MediaVest Group said, “Ultimately it is up to the content of the program because all these channels do a good job of marketing the program and the viewer knows that this program is coming on air. Then whether they sample the program and stick to it is driven by the content of the program.”
Only time will tell
Since this is a new genre on television only time can tell whether it will achieve success. Yudh can be closely compared to ‘24’, the Indian adaptation of the US-based show of the same name, staring Anil Kapoor which featured on Colors. It garnered ratings of 3.4 TVMs during the opening week which ultimately dropped down to 2.2 to 2.5 TVMs eventually.
“24 was very action oriented and it was one of the first shows. 24 has been an established series across the world. As a plot people had already checked it out (the international format). Yudh is a different format, you have to give it time. Maybe this is the best that this program will do or you never know whether the plot thickens and people watch it. So I think it is just best to wait and watch and see what happens,” said Balakrishna.
On a similar neutral note Das said, “As far as Yudh is concerned we’ll have to see how the ratings progress. I don’t want to generalize because two things have not done well. The first week has not done well, but obviously it is going to take a little more time in today’s fragmented world for audiences to build up.”
Though we might have to wait for the ratings to ascertain whether Yudh is picking up viewership, it seems to be more unlikely that this show will be able to catapult the channel on top this week. The slow format and intense drama might be a format that would work well for the big screens but will take definitely take time for audiences here to catch on to such a format. In the end not even the power of Amitabh Bachchan might help if the content is not to the audiences liking.