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2017 a year of rebranding and extending time slots for Hindi GECs

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MUMBAI: The year 2017 was a roller-coaster ride for Hindi general entertainment channels (GEC) in the truest spirit of the term. The tussle for the top slot in the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) ratings has seen pay TV and free-to-air (FTA) channels hold on tight to the rope.

Be it upping the ante on content experimentation, bigger budgets, launching new time slots, shutting down time slots, rebranding channels or introducing innovations in the traditional working style, broadcasters have gone beyond their limits to make their audiences drool. We at Indiantelevision.com bring to you the highlights of the year that was across Hindi GECs.  

Star Plus

Known for experimenting, Star Plus continued to innovate in 2017. It reintroduced Star Dopahar, after a gap of eight years, earlier this year with fresh shows. The success of the early prime time encouraged the channel to go ahead with bringing back the Dopahar (Hindi for afternoon) slot. 10-second ad rate for the afternoon band was approximately Rs 40,000-50,000.

Four new shows were introduced - Tu Sooraj Mein Saanjh, Piyaji, Kya Kasoor Amla Ka?, Dhai Kilo Prem and Ek Aastha Aise Bhi. But after winning the rights of the Indian Premier League this year, it decided to pull the plug on the afternoon band. Apart from the time slot, Star Plus experimented with the content as well. The channel launched a historical show Aarambh on 24 June 2017. Before the launch of the show, it was supposed to be a 32-episode series but due to low ratings, it went off air at 24 episodes. The show had brought together the best of talent from across genres in India ranging from veteran actress Tanuja Mukerji to writer Vijayendra Prasad from Baahubali and director Goldie Behl under one banner.

On the fiction front, Star Plus launched Iss Pyar ko Kya Naam Doon season 3, Dil Sambhal Jaa Zara, Rishton Ka Chakravyuh, Pardesh and Koi Laut Ke Aya Hai and others. On the non-fiction side, the channel launched Dance Plus season 3 along with a new dance reality show Dance Champions. This year, Hindi GEC also witnessed a comeback of The Great Indian Laughter Challenge after nine years. The first four seasons were aired on Star One and the fifth season was launched on Star plus. The broadcaster also bought an American music reality show to India, Lip Sing Battle based on Lip Sync Battle with Farah Khan.

Towards the end of 2017, the channel is all set to launch yet another unique show TED Talks India: Nayi Soch, a global first Hindi TV talk show created in partnership with TED, the non-profit devoted to ‘ideas worth spreading,’ and hosted by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. The show was launched on 10 December.

Colors

Maintaining the trend, Viacom 18’s Hindi GEC channels Colors, extended its programming to an early evening band starting 5 pm onwards and also introduced a new time slot on weekends. This year, Colors drew back its prime time to begin at 5.30 pm on weekdays. The channel launched two new shows Bhaag Bakul Bhaag and Savitri Devi College and Hospital at 5.30 pm and 6 pm. The channel shifted its fiction show Thapki Pyaar Ki to 5 pm.

Back in 2015, the channel had opened a new slot at 8 pm on weekends for Balaji Telefilms’s Naagin. The experiment really worked for the channel as the show topped the ratings charts. In 2017, the channel again experimented and extended the weekend slot to 7 pm with Swastik Production’s Mahakaali in July. Innovating more with the weekend programming lineup, the channel launched an afternoon band on weekends with Aunty Boli Lagao Boli at 12pm on Sunday.  It’s a new Live interactive game show, developed and conceptualised by Viaan Industries - promoted by entrepreneur Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty Kundra. After launching a 12 pm slot on Sunday, the channel launched another show at 1pm, Rasoi Ki Jung- Mummyon Ke Sang.

Colors has always been strong on the mythological and fantasy drama side and is currently airing three shows including, Mahakaali, Shaani and Chandrakanta.

Zee TV

2017, has been an exciting year for Zee TV. The network gobbled up RBNL’s TV broadcast business which includes Big Magic and Big Ganga. After acquisition, the network revamped Big Magic into Zee Magic. The channel launched four shows including Shaktipeeth Ke Bhairav that will depict the mythical story of 52 shaktipeeths from the perspective of one of the most powerful and raging forms of Lord Shiva – Bhairav. Kunwara Hai Par Humara Hai, Tera Baap Mera Baap and Deewane Anjane are amongst them.

The other acquisition was 9X Media’s music channels for Rs 160 crore. 9X Media, along with its subsidiaries, operates a bouquet of six music channels - 9XM (Latest Bollywood), 9X Jalwa (Evergreen Hindi), 9X Jhakaas (Marathi), 9X Tashan (Punjabi), 9XO (English), 9X Bajao (Hindi Classics).

The Subhash Chandra-led company also made its mark by completing 25 years in the TV industry. To celebrate the monumental achievement, it rebranded Zee TV with a new logo and tagline ‘Aaj Likhenge Kal’.

The network launched a kids drama Bhootu at the 6.30 pm time slot. Two fiction dramas and a homegrown reality show have been, time and again, propping up Zee TV’s ratings in 2017– Kumkum Bhagya (which did it for the channel in the previous calendar year also) and Kumkum Bhagya – Kundali Bhagya. And Zee TV’s home grown reality show is the music talent hunt Amul Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs. Zee TV topped the ratings amongst the Hindi GEC in BARC weekly data for top 10 channels across genre: (All India (U+R) : 2+ Individuals). Zee TV was ranked second after the Sun Network’s flagship Tamil GEC Sun TV in week 44 of 2017. This time around for Zee TV, it was the spinoff that had a larger viewership in the Hindi GEC HSM (U+R) and Hindi GEC HSM (U) market than the original.

Sony Entertainment Television

Sony started off the year by extending its primetime to start from 7 pm. This year, SET has introduced variety. On the fiction front, SET is one of the few Hindi GECs which has focused on mythological and historical shows this year apart from daily dramas. The channel launched Peshwa Bajirao, Vighanharta Ganesh, Mere Sai- Shardha & Subri, Porus and Prithvi Vallabh. Swastik Production’s Porus is rumoured as one of the most expensive TV shows at a production value of nearly Rs 400-500 crore and the ad rates for a 10-second slot is pegged between Rs 1.5-2 lac per episode.

The channel found itself in a fix when the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council asked it to remove the controversial show Pehredaar Piya Ki. The soap opera, with a story-line where a minor boy is shown married to a young adult woman, who also doubles up as his security guard, had come under criticism for allegedly promoting regressive ideas like child marriage, which is an offence under Indian laws.

On the non-fiction front, the channel launched a slew of new shows like Indian Idol, Super Dancer season2 and many more. Apart from this, the channel launched Sony’s iconic property Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC season 9 ). This time, the show has seen many changes in the format with one being that the show had shortened to just 35 episodes with each one having a duration of 50-60 minutes. The entire inventory was sold out prior to launch with brands such as Jio, Vivo, Axis Bank, Datsun, etc on board.

The Kapil Sharma Show, which it had snagged from Colors, went off air since the lead Kapil Sharma was busy with his own film promotions. It is expected to re-launch soon.

Star Bharat

On 28 August 2017, Life OK was revamped with a new name, logo, tagline and a lineup of fresh original shows. It debuted on the free-to-air DTH platform DD FreeDish with its parent having successfully bid for a place after coughing up a shade over Rs 160 million. That Star Bharat continues to be available on other cable and DTH platforms could be another masterstroke.

Earlier reported by Indiantelevision.com, in week 36, Star Bharat took the second position in the GEC category garnering 669588 (000s) Impressions and 378234 (000s) Impressions, respectively, in the urban+rural and rural markets. The two-week-old channel’s reach too had gone up by 15 per cent from week 35-36, while the ratings or impressions grew by 29 per cent. In contrast, in week 34 of BARC India ratings, Life OK (the earlier avatar of Star Bharat) was placed at 10th  spot in the urban + rural market with 328571 (000s) Impressions, while in the urban market it did slightly better at sixth position with 213162 (000s) Impressions.

Sab TV

The year 2017, has been the year of re-branding for Sab TV. In July 2017, the channel went under re-construction and got a new logo, tagline and a brand ambassador.  Bollywood actor, the ever so popular and young, Varun Dhawan was signed on as the channel’s brand ambassador to help attract this untargeted demographic. After the revamp, the average ratings of the channel before rebranding was 193 million impressions, which has increased to 212 million impressions, post rebranding.

Another year has come to an end but the creativity and innovation don’t stop. With full digitisation expected take place soon and with the growth of the country’s internet connectivity, GECs are expected to utilise digital mediums to reach out to masses wherever they might be. TV isn’t just going to be about the living room box anymore.

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