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Mixed Media: Is Star Plus back as the GEC #1?

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Mixed Media: Is Star Plus back as the GEC #1?

Two weeks of leadership with ratings numbers aren’t enough to proclaim Star Plus as the new leader among Hindi general entertainment channels, but the status at the time of writing clearly indicates that the channel is numero uno. That could well change tonight when fresh TAM numbers are out, but some damage is done.

When Colors outpaced Star Plus last year, my view was that it happened due to complacency at Star India. There were many who were upset with the comment, colleagues said I was being uncharitable and that Star India had indeed done a fair bit to stay ahead, but to my mind, the only reason Star could’ve allowed a newbie on top of the pack for 22-long weeks was that it didn’t take Colors too seriously in its early days.

I wouldn’t say Colors got complacent since it turned #1, far from it. But the chinks in the content mix showed. ‘Balika Vadhu’, the rage in middle-class India, was losing sheen. It needed a tweak in the storyline to see child protagonist Anandi being shot in the head to generate some interest. I am certain the trick will pay off in the form of ratings since there is some active promotion of Anandi battling for life.

Having been bruised rather badly by Colors, Star Plus suffered a huge setback with ‘Sach Ka Saamna’ facing some rough weather. Supercop Kiran Bedi’s ‘Aap Ki Kachheri’, which had a great first season, didn’t do well in 2009. However, there are two things which Star India did right: it went all out to reduce its dependence on the flagship GEC. And, two, it went back to the drawing board and took a long-term view on the Star Plus content strategy. Plus some aggressive acquisition of new Bollywood film releases.

It’s still not smooth sailing for Star Plus yet. Quality content and, more importantly, innovation in programming can help propel a channel to dizzying heights. Star may have been doing that all the while, but we need more. Putting some shows around the IPL for Colors may be a smart idea, but I don’t see it having caught anyone’s fancy. Perhaps it’s early days yet. What’s needed is some experimenting with the primetime fiction and reality shows.

By the way, in all of this, Zee is having a great time. And laughing all the way to the bank as it has gone easy on spends in this battle for supremacy.

So, where does all of this leave the general entertainment channels? We all know the Top 3 entertainment channels are within sneezing distance of each other. Ideally, they need to stop shouting from the rooftops when they are #1. There’s decidedly a lot, lot more that media buyers look at than just weekly ratings.

PS: In the business news channel space, confusing media agencies with innumerable figures seems to be the order of the day. Little do broadcasters realise that all of it cuts little ice with the number-crunchers. In fact, too much of it can only put them off. And rightly so.

(The views expressed here are my own. Post your comments below or mail them at or tweet them at @pmahesh.)

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