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The case of mass channels and the weekend dips

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The case of mass channels and the weekend dips

Mass channels are television’s titans, but on weekends, the titan kneels. While every other genre either grows or maintains shares on weekends, general entertainment channels (GEC) take a beating. Let’s look into what is wrong with GEC weekends and what investments of channels like STAR Plus signify.

Where goes the weekend audience?

Beginning with numbers – TAM Media Research shows that in comparison to the 408 minutes than a C&S 4+ individual spends on watching TV on weekdays, on weekends, he spends 410 minutes, showing equal weekend-weekday viewership.

But for mass channels, the available weekend numbers don’t materialise in ratings. TAM data shows that GECs see a fall in viewing share, from 39 per cent to 26 per cent, while other genres like Hindi movies gain. The situation is such that Zee Cinema scores better than Sony and Zee TV, and at times even Star Plus on weekends.

Taking the example of Zee Cinema, the movie channel does enjoy a good number on weekdays, beating channels like Sony and Zee TV, but the gap with STAR Plus varies from 10-17 per cent, Plus being the clear weekday leader. Weekends, however, be it week 7 to 11 or week 10 and week 19, show Zee Cinema beating STAR Plus to take the number one slot for the 10.00 am to midnight band.

The competition on weekends is fierce enough, not allowing any one channel the leadership position. If the 28-weeks average is considered, Plus weekends claim average share of 8.12 per cent, followed by Zee Cinema at 7.2 per cent, Sony, Zee TV and Max taking subsequent slots.

Consequently, the viewing share gap with GECs is reduced on weekends, Hindi movies claiming 19 per cent, 6 per cent more than that of weekdays. The other genres that gain on weekends include sports channels, English movies and niche channels.

Data shows that genres like News, Kids’, Infotainment Music, Regionals and Religious channels don’t see much change in weekends. Evidently, the strongest genre of television – mass channels, is the only loser.

Amongst the reasons that media experts offer for bad weekends, the prime one that comes across is content. “There is no quality content,” said Media Direction’s PRP Nair. Agreeing with him, Pradeep Iyengar, Vice-President, Carat Media said, “No channel has shown a consistent strategy on weekends. The most you have seen is events and movies and when they are right, they deliver.”

Iyengar’s point is seen in examples like ‘Star Parivaar’ delivering a 13 plus and the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Main Hoon Na delivering a 10 plus on STAR Plus and the bike flick Dhoom throwing a 7 plus on Sony.

Agreeing with them and adding further, Manish Porwal, GM, Starcom, said, “If three factors – audience consuming TV but not GEC, audience consuming other in-home media but not TV, and audience at home but not consuming any media – are seen closely, the fact that a huge audience lies untapped on weekends, comes to fore. This is an opportunity for mass channels.”

Channels in action

An opportunity that STAR India is all set to encash. “We are giving weekends our best shot,” said Shailja Kejriwal, Creative Director, STAR Plus. “The fact that we are bringing our best property KBC 2 backed with new programmes and a high-power line up is indication enough.”

Kejriwal pointed out that for Plus, there was no slot except for weekends that needed work at present. In addition, the channel has already tested the weekend slot by extending its daily Kasautii Zindagi Ki to Fridays. “And it has delivered,” Kejriwal affirmed, adding, “For the last three Fridays, our share has increased by 25 per cent.”

The spill is seen in LOC, where the rating has increased from 2 plus to 5 plus. Come August 5 and with KBC 2, Plus will see a lot more action. To begin with, Kejriwal said that with KBC 2 at 9.00 pm, weekends would be more vibrant and upbeat. The new line up will see LOC shifted to Saturdays at 10.30 pm, making way for Ba, Bahu or Baby slotted for Friday to Sunday at 10.00 pm. On Sunday, in the 10.30 slot comes UTV’s Shanno Ki Shaadi, which, Kejriwal explained, was a finite 13-15 week property.

Later in the month, on August 27, a dance show, Kaboom, sees daylight. The combination of the Jaffrey brothers – Javed and Naaved – with Ravi Behl, in addition to Prabhu Deva, is slotted to take the 8 pm slot on Saturdays. On Sundays, 6.00 pm to 9.00 pm is the movie band.

“This are nine hours of original programming on weekends,” remarked Kejriwal. “So there is a high energy dance show lined up with a high power quiz show, giving way to a pleasant, colourful family drama – taking our weekend primetime to 11.00 pm.”

Experts do see factors like the dailies on Zee TV and STAR Plus extended to Friday in a positive light. Media Direction’s Nair said, “It is seen in regional channels and they don’t suffer the kind of drop that Hindi GEC weekends see. A programme like KBC 2 coming on weekends is a very healthy step, which should bring some changes.”

It doesn’t matter which factor is taken into consideration – the serious competition that other channels give to mass channels or the performance of one-off properties like events on mass channels itself – one thing is clear. The efforts seen on weekends so far really haven’t harnessed the slot as it can be. Whether concerted efforts like KBC 2 and the other shows that STAR Plus has line up will make any difference – one will soon know.

Sony and Zee officials couldn’t be contacted, despite repeated attempts for their inputs on their respective channels’ weekends plans.

(Data calculated on C&S 4+ in the Hindi speaking market for the last four TAM weeks, ending week 28)


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