Television

Channels line up battle for afternoon viewers

The Hindi General Entertainment Channel (GEC) space is getting replete with strategies, counter strategies, experiments and innovations.

While newbie NDTV Imagine has grabbed the number three position withRamayan as its content driver, Zee TV has topped the prime-time slot with shows like Banoo Main Teri Dulhann and Mayka.

The battle for supremacy in prime time is being fought hard by Star Plus and Zee. The other GECs are also investing heavily to grab viewership in this time band as it attracts a major chunk of the revenues.

However, the story does not just end at the prime time. Since a major chunk of the total GRPs comes from prime time, every channel wants to leverage it. But the fact remains that a Hindi GEC with the core target of active female viewers has to focus not only on the prime time but also on the afternoon slot, which is the second most sought-after in terms of revenues.

While at the moment only Star Plus, Zee TV and 9X are the players that have an afternoon slot with fresh programmes, others in the field have either repeats of their prime-time shows or movies. But they are also eyeing this space.

To understand the dynamics, let's take a look at the afternoon slots of these channels.

  1:00 pm - 1:30 pm 1:30 pm - 2:00 pm 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm 2:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Star Kumkum Bhabhi Karam Apna Apna Grahasti
Zee Saath Saath Rakhi Meri Doli Tere Angana
-

Star Plus has its top performing shows which have been traditionally doing well for it. The slot begins with Kumkum at 1 pm followed by Bhabhi andKaram Apna Apna at 1:30 pm and 2:00 pm, respectively. All the three shows have delivered well for the channel. The third show is Grihasthi, which was launched last month, replacing Sarrthi at 2:30.

Zee presently has Sath Sath at 1 pm, Rakhi at 1:30 pm andMeri Doli Tere Angana at 2 pm.

STRATEGY

It was Star who first dominated the afternoon turf with fresh programmes. Zee had, more or less, fixed its eyes on the lucrative prime-time band.

Until May 2007, afternoons on Zee TV meant a repeat of prime-time shows. But having stabilised the prime-time band, Zee launched the attack to grab the afternoon viewers.

The first to fill this space was Meri Doli Tere Anganaon at 2 pm. This was then followed by the launch ofRakhi at 1:30 pm in August.

Zee's strategy was to first hit the slot where Star Plus was relatively weak and from 2 pm to move to the 1 pm band.

"We have already consolidated the prime time and now our focus is on the afternoon slot," says Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) president of revenue Joy Chakraborthy.

This obviously came as a strategy to increase the GRPs for the channel.

On Star Plus' front, the "K" shows from Balaji Telefilms have been the ruling ragas on the channel. Interestingly, of the present lot of the K shows, one is on the afternoon band ( Karam Apna Apna) while Kumkumfrom Bag Films has played a long innings and still going strong. All these shows are running for long and have consistently delivered well for the channel.

The consistency and loyalty of viewers reflect well in the TRPs these shows deliver. How will Zee break the cult?

"We are gradually building over the slot with shows. Moreover, one should not forget that Star Plus has been running these shows for two to three years and the loyalty has been built already. Gradually, we will also secure the afternoon slot with shows targeted towards women," says Chakraborthy.

It seems the hide-and-seek game will persist for some more time.

FEASIBILITY

Launching a slot is not an easy job because revenues play an important role. Every slot should be workable.

With huge monies involved, channels need to be more cautious while launching shows. The afternoon band also is relatively low paying but there is potential to up the rates.

"The CPRP is also lower and because of which the afternoon inventory is choc-a-block and that makes an investment worth returns," says Chakraborthy.

"The female viewership is higher in the afternoon slot because of which there are 65 per cent to 70 per cent of FMCG brands advertising in the afternoon slot," he adds.

However, the trend remains that the prime time, which constitutes the major chunk of the GRPs, has to be consolidated first and then comes the daily afternoon slot.

If that is the case, Zee launching an afternoon slot makes sense. But the middle rung channels which are still toddling behind have to still give it a thought.

"The investments that go into producing the shows are huge but the RoIs have to be equally huge. At this time, we want to establish our prime time. However, afternoon is something that needs to be addressed on our channel and we will focus on it very soon," says Sahara One programming head Kalyan Sundaram.

"With this kind of investment, a lot of research needs to be done and everything has to be worked out," adds Sundaram.

  12:00 pm- 12:30 pm 12:30 pm - 1:00pm 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm 1:30 pm - 2:00 pm
9x Rasme Rasoi Dahhej Neelajanaa Veeranwali

Industry observers say that only after the prime time is strengthened, the channel should intrude the afternoon slot. Traditionally that has been the case.

Kumkum was a low-budget show, and later on went on to become the major driver of the channel.

"I was involved in the mounting process of Kumkum which was the show that gave insight of using afternoon slot for building GRPs," says Sony Entertainment Television (SET) creative head Sanjay Upadhyay.

The other channels repeat the shows that are aired in the prime time.

"Repeats drive the prime-time slot. It is our extended offering to viewers who could not catch the shows at prime time. We don't want to get scattered everywhere. As the industry says, first strengthen the prime time and then focus on afternoon. By showing repeats, we are trying to build up our prime time and as far as movies are concerned, they have their own strengths," adds Upadhyay.

9X, which is a new entrant in the genre, launched its afternoon slot in January 2008 with Rasm-E-Rasoi at 12:00 noon. 12:30 pm has a repeat of a prime-time show Daheej. Then comes Neelanjana at 1 pm and Veeranwaliat 1:30 pm - both of which are fresh shows.

9X's afternoon slot begins at 12 noon which is one hour ahead of Star Plus and Zee's slot.

"A strong daily afternoon band will only add variety to the offerings of a GEC, which have to be rich and varied because it's a general entertainment channel. We have two original daily dramas and a cookery show. We wanted to offer our key audiences the best of programming not just in prime time but in the afternoons too," says INX Media founder-CEO Indrani Mukerjea.

Star and Zee have fresh programming in the afternon slot, but they have an established prime time. Considering that, isn't it too early for 9X to launch the afternoon slot with fresh programmes?

"These programming decisions are in keeping with our business plan, and we have a long-term perspective. We believe that the homemaker female audiences need good, original programming that informs and entertains in the afternoons. Hence, we are offering cookery shows and two original daily dramas for them," adds Mukerjea.

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