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Rates high, ratings not; Stage set for yet another challenge in Hindi GEC space

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Rates high, ratings not; Stage set for yet another challenge in Hindi GEC space

After 2000, when Star Plus’ decision to go Hindi had finally begun to reap fruits and ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ created waves across the nation, 2008 would be another year that would go down in the history of Hindi general entertainment genre. One reason is the sheer increase in the number of channels in this genre, and the second is the resounding success that Colors has seen in a very short time, where it is now breathing down the neck of the genre leader itself.

Though there are media analysts who are still cautiously watching the channel and how it grows, most in the industry agree that Colors has played its role of a challenger brand that has shaken up the industry. Channels prior to Colors like NDTV Imagine and 9X, too, impressed the media industry. NDTV Imagine is credited with experimenting in the genre, where it made genres like mythology weekday primetime again. The move delivered for the channel too. However, Colors has created a new benchmark of experiments, programming and marketing costs.

While the going looks good, there are areas of concern for Hindi GECS.

The Intra-Genre GRP movement

The overall GRP supply of the genre has moved between 1050 GRPs and 1150 GRPs even after the launch of the new channels. Rating trends show that the increase in the number of channels has not grown the overall market, but has instead accentuated the fragmentation. R Gowthaman, Leader, Mindshare South Asia, explained, “The Hindi GEC market has not grown. Colors becoming the No. 2 channel in a week where both Star Plus and Zee TV have lost out on numbers is just one of the signals that show that there is intra-genre GRP movement for the Hindi GECs.”

Sandip Tarkas, President, Customer Strategy, Future Group, noted, “In any genre, when the number of players increase, the market size also increases. The Hindi GEC, however, has not increased. There is immense fragmentation within the genre and new players are largely getting numbers from the others within the genre itself. For the overall genre, this is not the most positive sign.”

The channels don’t agree with this observation completely though. Joy Chakraborthy, President and Revenue Head, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, explained, “The Hindi GEC genre has grown by 200 GRPs and that is a significant number. More importantly, globally whenever there is growth in a particular space, there is fragmentation, and irrespective of the market, the CPRP (cost per rating points) would go up dramatically. This is a reality.”

Countdown to shake-up begins

Chakraborthy is of the opinion that there is more that would change in the genre. He said, “At present, there is a lot that every player is trying and experimenting with and hence, there is too many activities happening in the genre right now. This has to eventually settle down.”

Bringing in the advertiser’s perspective, Tarkas agreed with that too. He said, “Inflation, even in media, is a reality. The costs of bringing out a channel are increasing dramatically and it would become difficult even for just any channel to survive now. We are heading towards consolidation and closures. The days of investment now and results later are gone. So, there is much more that would happen in this genre.”

As Gowthaman put it, it is ‘Even Stevens’ at the top right now for the Hindi general entertainment genre. The difference of 15-20 GRPs between the top three channels is barely a difference. “Doesn’t the problem become evident in that itself? The ratings have dropped and the rates have not,” commented Gowthaman.

Both Chakraborthy and Tarkas have stated that soaps were an important area for Hindi GECs to focus on. Tarkas said, “Soaps need to reinvent themselves in some manner. The overdose of negativity that you see on the shows has to come down.” Chakraborthy added, “The one thing that is for sure is that the number of successful soaps would define the success of a channel.”

These are indeed interesting times for the Hindi GEC genre and we await further developments with much anticipation.


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