GEC's redefine weekend programming with Comedy shows, Soap extensions & Film premieres

The weekend programming across Hindi GEC’s is a far cry from what it used to be few years back. The transformation is unmissible and more targeted and innovative than ever before to garner maximum viewership

e4m by Sarmistha Neogy
Updated: May 2, 2016 8:06 AM
GEC's redefine weekend programming with Comedy shows, Soap extensions & Film premieres

The weekend programming across Hindi GEC’s is a far cry from what it used to be few years back. The transformation is unmissible and more targeted and innovative than ever before to garner maximum viewership.

Today the weekend programming on Hindi General Entertainment Channels (GEC’s) is no longer about running repeats of weekday shows and airing old movies; it has turned a lot more exciting as well as competitive. From launching big ticket non-fiction properties, to extending their popular weekdays soaps to weekends and airing World TV Premiere of latest Bollywood films, there is a lot of action happening in this space lately.

Recently when the much hyped ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’ was launched on Sony TV at the 9-10 pm slot, its competitor Colors aired the World TV premiere of the movie ‘Bajirao Mastani’ to divert viewership.  Sony on the other hand, devised a strategy to ensure stickiness on their channel by airing the movie ‘Baahubali’ at 5pm. This was done so that viewers stay tuned in to their channel from 5-10PM and the ratings on the launch day of ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’ stay unaffected.

In order to combat viewership in the 9-10 pm time slot, Colors has recently announced their new show ‘India’s Got Talent’ while &TV has got the much-awaited Indian version of the American dance show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ to India and will be airing it at 9 pm. In the month of March, Zee TV got back their popular singing reality show ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ after a gap of 4 years which is aired at the 9:30 pm slot during the weekends. At 9 pm, the channel has their popular fiction show ‘Kum Kum Bhagya’. While, Star Plus has ‘Diya Aur Baati Hum’ and ‘Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hain’ slotted in the 9-10 pm time band.

As per the BARC ratings for week (12-15), 9-10 pm slot, Star Plus and Zee TV garnered the maximum impressions during the weekend (Saturday & Sunday combined data). For week 12 and 13, Star Plus led the weekend chart with 26, 012 and 33,697 impressions respectively and for week 14, Zee TV was marginally ahead of Star Plus with 27,981 impressions.  However, for week 15, Colors topped all the other GECs with 36,953 impressions on the back of the ‘Golden Petal Awards’. In fact the telecast of the award show, which took place on Sunday at (20:59 - 23:56 pm), upped the slot rating up by 60%.

Extension of weekday fiction shows:

Star Plus was the first channel to experiment with extending daily soaps to weekends. It was the channel’s ploy to extend the telecast of their high rated shows against the non-fiction properties of the other GECs. It had earlier experimented with extending shows to weekends, but starting this year, the channel has stretched all their weekly daily fiction shows to the weekends. In order to engage the viewers on Sundays, Star Plus had earlier created the ‘Maha Movie’ primetime, whereby it was showcasing serials in a three-hour long film format.

Last year, Zee TV extended their weekday programming to six days; the channel came up with a Saturday band called ‘Sunhera Shaniwar’. Colors has also extended the timing of three of its fiction shows during the weekends. Sony on the other hand, has two of its mythological shows extended till Saturdays.

Comedy shows:

Comedy as a genre has always been very popular during the weekends. Following Kapil Sharma’s unceremonious exit from Colors channel, Sony TV which has been lying low on the ratings chart, was quick to get Sharma on-board with ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’. The intent of the new show launch was to refresh the primetime weekend programming of the channel. Sony has thus got back to the comedy genre after a hiatus of 4-5 years when it used to air ‘Comedy Circus’.

Colors on the other hand, retained the format of ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’ but changed the name to ‘Comedy Nights Live’ and got popular comedian Krushna Abhishek and Bharti Singh to host the show which gets aired every Sunday at 10 pm. Also, based on the format of roast comedy, ‘Comedy Nights Bachao’ gets aired every Saturday at 9 pm on the channel.

World TV movie premiere:

World TV premiere of latest movies on Hindi GEC’s during weekends has also become a popular trend. It helps to grab eyeballs and ensures stickiness on the channel for long hours. After Colors aired the movie ‘Bajirao Mastani’ recently, Star Plus has announced the world TV premiere of super hit movie ‘Neerja’ on May 8 at 1pm.The story about the slain airhostess of the highjacked Pan Am flight, played by actress Sonam Kapoor was released in theatres this February. According to reports, the channel will be airing ‘Sanam Re’ and ‘Tere Bin Laden 2’ as well this month for world TV premiere viewing.  

What works- Fiction or Non-fiction during the weekends?

We spoke to some media planners in order to understand the kind of content- fiction or non-fiction that works for the audience during the weekends. Commenting on this, Sudha Natrajan, National Head - Strategy & Business Development, Hindustan Times pointed out, “Content reigns supreme and the viewer is spoilt for choice. There was a time when prime time GEC’s viewership would take a beating because of IPL. On the other hand, today we have several reality shows being launched during the IPL, and daily soaps that were aired five times a week have become seven day programming, especially with the Star Network. Earlier the cannibalisation of IPL viewership with GEC would be to the extent of 15-20% but this year, while IPL is also showing good performance, the cannibalisation is down to about 7-8%. Moreover, channels have such a tight calendar of reality programming that there isn't the luxury of taking breaks. So, it is party time for the viewer.”

Sharing her thoughts, Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group, India & South Asia said, “There is one simple thing which one needs to understand is that viewers want content. Most of the current shows in the weekend 9-10 pm slot have a loyal audience with appointment viewing. We as planners slice, dice and analyse these shows and categorise them among different genre in a weekend slot. But the audience sees the shows as ‘theirs’.”

She added, “The time slot allows inexpensive wholesome weekend entertainment at home with the immediate or even a small extended family. The shows have the pull to excite the audience so much that they just cannot wait for a repeat. In fact I’ve seen some simultaneously record it to ‘see again properly, aram-se’ at their own time! Some of the existing and new shows are trying to capitalise on the appointment viewing potential of this slot and extending them over the weekend, ensuring viewership on the otherwise not so viewed slots. The channels/shows present the audiences with an interesting bouquet of well-marketed choices,” she added.

Sundeep Nagpal, Founder & Director, Stratagem Media elaborated, “In my opinion, reality content works better than fiction during the weekends. They bring alive the weekend programming, which otherwise is quite dull. Also, one needs to understand that there is a lot of competition today, if one channel launches a reality show, then others will follow suit because no one wants to lose any viewership even during the weekends. The reason being, weekend viewership can even skew the weekly ratings of a channel. It is always better to have a non-fiction show during the weekend; otherwise the novelty factor of the property wears off, unless it is something like a ‘Bigg Boss’.”

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