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Yesteryear superstar Rajesh Khanna's death swings audiences away from GECs to news channels

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MUMBAI: Four decades after Rajesh Khanna ruled over Indian hearts with his romantic brand of movies, the forgotten and lonely superstar warmed up Indian audiences again as he breathed his last at his iconic Aashirwad residence on 18 July.

Hindi news channels, who covered extensively his death and funeral, lured audiences across demographics to remind them of an era that will never come again. Young audiences who had never seen him before glued to the TV to know more about Bollywood‘s first superstar who created history by giving 21 box-office hits in the six-year period between 1969 and 1974.

Hindi TV news genre nearly doubled their viewership in the week ended 21 July, making it one of those rare occasions when they ate into the audiences of Hindi general entertainment channels (GECs) who reign over primetime television in India day in and day out with their popular soaps and non-fiction content.

The ratings for that week went through a big change. The GRPs (gross rating points) of Hindi news channels rose to 126, from 66 a week earlier. This coincided with the dip in Hindi GEC viewership, trimming by 75 points, according to TAM data (HSM, C&S, 4+) provided by the channels.

Hindi news channels aired a special string of programmes on Khanna who had a fan following in the ‘70s that has not been matched by any Bollywood superstar ever. The man who swung hearts with movies like Anand, Aradhana, Bawarchi and Amar Prem had an almost secluded life later, after a high-profile marriage with Dimple Kapadia that did not last long. The channels showed his life, his movies, his megalomaniac trait and played his romantic songs to allow audiences to go back to history.

Several leading shows on Hindi GECs lost audience share. The ‘Khanna‘ week, in fact, saw a drop in overall TV viewing.

Within the GEC genre, Sony Entertainment Television (Set) returned to the No. 2 position after a gap of two months. Set added six GRPs in a week that saw the other leading channels lose theirs. Set’s fiction property Bade Achhe Lagte Hain, the storyline of which took a five-year leap two weeks ago, saw a rise in ratings after a long time. With an average TVR of 4.2, the show has become the second most watched on the Hindi GECs. Star Plus’ Diya Aur Baati Hum leads with a 5.8 TVR.

Though continuing to lead the genre, Star Plus shed 21 points to end the week with 254 GRPs. Its leading shows like Sathiya Saath Nibhana, Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behena Hai and Iss Pyaar Ko kyaa Naam Dun fell below the 3 TVR-mark.

Meanwhile, Zee TV, which was on a ratings upswing due to shows like Fear Files and DID Lil Masters, lost maximum number of GRPs during the week. The channel shed 32 GRPs as its fiction property Pavitra Rishta and flagship dance reality show DID Lil Masters lost viewership.

Fear Files, which had opened with 3.8 TVR and was registering an average 3.5+ TVR, dropped to 2.6 TVR. Zee TV ended the week with 221 GRPs and at the third spot among the Hindi GECs.

Colors too saw a loss of 16 GRPs to close the week with 214 GRPs. Its leading show, Balika Vadhu, fell to a TVR of 3.8.

Like Set, its sister channel Sab also added six points to register 129 GRPs, while Life OK lost 12 GRPs to record 101 GRPs.

Sahara One with 42 GRPs (last week 39) remained at the bottom of the heap.

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