What drives content in Southern GECs?

Fiction continues to drive the GECs in the South, but the balance in terms of genre offering is being restored as GECs are toying with more non-fiction offerings, say industry experts

e4m by Deepa Balasubramanian
Updated: Mar 14, 2014 9:14 AM
What drives content in Southern GECs?

There was a time when Indians viewed television only during the prime time hour and some weekend special shows. Today, the habits and behaviour of the viewers have changed manifold.

When we look at the television viewing and pattern in the Southern market and compare it with the North, there is a huge difference in the choices that people make. It looks like the North and the South are two separate countries.

exchange4media spoke to experts from the south to understand how the GEC’s work in the market and what are the kind of shows that are appreciated by the audience here.

GECs’ bread and butter are the fiction shows, while the non-fiction content is like the jam which adds flavour to the bread, according to experts.

Aldam Jacob, Network Head, non-fiction, Sun TV Network said, “Sun Group is a market leader purely on the strength of its fiction which connects to female viewers so well. Non-fiction market is getting tougher to please. Only the tough and innovative will survive. The competition is much more fierce because lot more options are available in the market.”

Similar to what Aldam spoke, Anup Chandrasekharan, Business Head, Asianet & Suvarna said that GECs across the country is driven by women oriented fiction shows. South market also works on that. Non-fiction shows are only used to create impact or disruption.

K Sriram, General Manager, Vijay TV said, “Fiction continues to drive the GECs in the South, but the balance in terms the genre offering is being restored as GECs are toying with more Unique non-fiction offerings.”

Experts believe that be it fiction or non-fiction, the more the content is simple, compelling and entertaining the more viewership will the channel attract. GEC’s in the south especially in Tamil Nadu has witnessed constant addition of channels. Viewership has been seeing fragmentation and competition has also become intense. But experts believe that the pecking order hasn’t changed much.

Launching a successful new show is a tough business in the south, especially due to the money constrains and sometimes indoor shooting places which are packed and delays the shows. In a market like Tamil Nadu, where people have been glued to television just to watch what will happen tomorrow in that particular serial, channels face tough time in catching the interest of viewers with a new show with new set of characters.

The possibility of failure luring in the minds of the broadcasters, channels are going to great lengths to ensure that they have got the formula right. But, Vijay TV, owned by Star though has created a niche audience for itself in the Tamil space.

Unlike the Hindi GEC’s, where big ticket movie premieres and celebrity walk-ins for their film promotion are no strangers on mainline. But in the southern market there is again a divide. Kannada language channels have stars who use popular shows to promote their films. This helps the viewership of the channel go high in that particular week.

Chandrasekharan said, “Movie premier is south are largely done to increase the weekend GRP’s. This also brings in new viewers to sample the channels. The viewership impact entirely depends on the popularity of the star. The big ‘A’list stars can increase the show ratings by 25 to 30 per cent.”

Usually the viewership split is 60 per cent fiction, 20 per cent non-fiction, 20 per cent movies.

Jacob adds, “Movie Premiers help bolster the overall GRP of the channel. Advertisers also have an appetite for Premiers. It is a cash cow. But Film Promotions are yet to explode in the South. Promotions are sporadic and can evolve much more.”

Sriram added, “Movie premiers in Tamil Nadu is restricted to Special and festive days. These act as big marketing windows for channels given the huge audiences available. On these holidays who have a habit of watching special programming line up. Yes Celebrity walk ins definitely add viewership as the STAR attraction works more in the South. But compared to Hindi GEC, it is less in this market.”

There have been no niche channels in the market but the market has seen new entrants. Channels such as Polimer Kannada which offers music and movie related shows and Suvarna Plus and Pudhu Yugam in Tamil Nadu are new to the market and have been trying hard to make a difference by rejuvenating the content.

Kannada General Entertainment has although shown good traction, between 2012 and 2013, as it has grown by 10 per cent. This growth is lead by new viewers moving to Kannada channels.

Many from the North have realized that the next growth is in the regional markets. So major production houses, networks and talents are making beeline to the South to explore newer avenues. Experts say the biggest challenge is aggregation of eye balls and sustenance of the channel.

Going forward the general entertainment space will continue to grow as broadcasters are experimenting with newer formats, also fresh perspective in fiction shows in terms of story telling will help the growth of GEC’s.

According to the Pitch Madison Media Advertising Outlook 2014, the TV ad spends will grow by 15 per cent in the year 2014. It will reach Rs 14,282 crore in 2014 from Rs 12,419 crore last year. Though the maturity to look beyond numbers has definitely increased in the southern markets, one has to wait and watch if the figures would be achieved and how much with the regional channels contribute to the growth.

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