If a show is not “breaking even” – and now the channel has even worked a formula for that – chances are that NDTV Imagine would be sending its production house partners scouting for another show or a newer idea in less than three months. The channel has structured a very clear content strategy for itself in order to achieve the target of moving up from the current 120-140 GRPs to the 175-200 GRPs bracket.
In this overall scene, ‘Rakhi ka Swayamvar’ has given the channel a reckoning of sorts. For some time now, NDTV Imagine, much like the other new general entertainment channels, has been focusing all its energies in the prime 7-11 pm time band, specifically in the weekdays. The finale episode of ‘Rakhi ka Swayamvar’ was the highest rated show on television in the respective week, beating all key shows on STAR Plus, Colors and Zee TV.
And now, as Sameer Nair, CEO, NDTV Imagine, puts it, the channel is working on getting more of its fiction content in the top 20 shows on television week on week.
The Grand Plan
NDTV Imagine has held on to the No. 4 position on television for several weeks now. Needless to say, the attempt from the channel is to narrow the distance from the top three. Closely following in the footsteps of ‘Rakhi ka Swayamvar’ are new properties like ‘Basera’ and ‘Rehna Hai Teri Palkon Ki Chaaon Mein’ in the daily 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm band, and the Indian version of ‘Baby Borrowers’, called ‘Pati, Patni Aur Woh’, that would once again attempt to push the boundaries of reality television further.
“We have two key learnings from ‘Rakhi Ka Swayamvar,” said Sameer Nair in a conversation with exchange4media. He elaborated, “First, a reality concept that is extremely edgy and a difficult-to-deal-with subject, such as ‘swayamvar’, can be successfully transferred into the GEC space as well. Second, this breaks the myth that the show is good, but the channel is weak – people will find good content and watch it, irrespective of the channel. The onus is on us and the content production houses to be able to create that kind of content.”
Nair also informed that in continuation with the thought that if a show was not working, it would be replaced soon, the channel had over six soaps in development at present. Speaking more specifically, he observed, “Today, everyone is focusing on the absolute deliverable. You can actually work out an equation for what is working or profitable, or not. A decently invested show needs a 1.8 TRP per episode to break even, purely on the content cost. If it doesn’t deliver that much, then from a commercial viewpoint, the show is not doing well.”
The Threat and the Opportunity
“There is a real premium on performance today. If something performs, we are happy to pay super bonuses, but on the flip side, we have to take the decisions faster. Two to three months is really the maximum that a channel needs to figure out whether the show is working or not, and while this thought process is still conceptual, we are well headed in that direction,” Nair added.
He reiterated a view that he has stated on several occasions in the past – in the threat, lay the opportunity. He said, “Three years ago, STAR Plus alone had over 600-odd GRPs, and there were three key channels – STAR Plus, Sony and Zee. Today, there are 10 channels in the space and the top three are trading positions every alternate week. Audiences are seeking programmes, and it is a continuous fight for all to hold on to their shares.”
While this overall scenario makes Hindi GEC an exceedingly unnerving business to work in, for Nair, these very points are the opportunities to up the ante. The specific challenge for Imagine is that can the channel now build on the buzz that it has managed to change the competitive equations of Hindi GECs further. The plans are clearly in place, and as they say, one will soon find out.
‘Rakhi ka Swayamvar’ finale scores an 8 plus for NDTV Imagine