Television

One week in DD Freedish takes Big Magic Ganga to number two from five

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MUMBAI: Television audience ratings measurement body Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India after the roll-out of its rural data has changed the entire dynamics of television viewership. BARC India’s rural roll-out resonated Bob Dylan’s famous lines in every ear as an alarm. Don't speak too soon, for the wheel's still in spin. And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. For the loser now Will be later to win, For the times they are a-changin. The rural data certainly gave all the followers wings of fire which got them right over the leaders who probably never thought of trailing.

But once that has happened, it was time for the erstwhile leaders to act and act fast before too much damage was done. Big Magic Ganga, the Bhojpuri channel from Anil Dhirubhai Ambani’s broadcast conglomerate Reliance Broadcast Network Limited (RBNL) had been leading the urban tally with over 45 per cent of the viewership share since BARC’s inception. Week 41 ratings of BARC India which had the rural data included in it saw the channel sliding down to the fifth position with a humongous difference when compared to the leaders.

The top brass then got together to work out a strategy and the permutations and combinations lead them to the best friend of rural India - DD Freedish. DD Freedish is Doordarshan’s direct-to-home innovation which enables one to watch content for free. There is only a one time charge that one needs to bear and after that it’s free for life.

“In the urban market we were undisputed number one. But after BARC started to roll out its rural data we lost our position. 85 per cent of the total viewers in Bihar and Jharkhand are DD Freedish subscribers, hence we decided to have a presence on the platform” says RBNL COO Ashwin Padmanabhan  

The decision did not take much time turn the tables, as with a rating of 38455 (000s Sum) the channel leapfrogged to second position, below Bhojpuri Cinema which garnered 41361 (000s Sum) in week 45. “We are happy to see the surge and it has been just a week. The others on the list were there on DD Freedish since a very long time” explains Padmanabhan.

Big Magic Ganga has 5 to 6 hours of original content curated keeping the local sentiments in mind. The programming is also a strong weapon for the channel says Padmanabhan. Elucidating further he says, “From the beginning we have believed that content is what drives the channel to success. We invested on setting up a local team which works extensively to create relevant content. Recently we did a special programme on Chatt and it emerged as one of the top 5 shows in the genre. We will continue to explore and create original content which the viewers will cherish.”

Phase III of digitisation has a deadline of 31 December. Padmanabhan feels that the mandatory shifting to DAS might see a huge number of consumers shifting to DD Freedish. “Buying a set-top box itself is an expensive proposition and after that the cost per house will also go up. Why will people pay more while they can watch content for free on DD Freedish. Having said so, digitization will help us grow the subscription revenue so it’s good for broadcasters” says Padmanabhan.

There is no subscription revenue that comes out of DD Freedish, since it is a free platform. In markets like Bihar and Jharkhand a channel like Big Magic Ganga does not rely on subscription revenue at this stage informs Padmanabhan. The COO says, “Advertisement is directly proportional to viewership and quality of content. Our advertisers are happy to associate with us as they know the content we create is relevant to viewers and hence it provides them the platform to garner eyeballs.”

FMCG leads the tally while is comes to category of advertisers closely followed by automobile companies. Two wheelers and affordable cars are seen frequently during breaks. Local advertisers which want to target that particular audience are also seen frequently between breaks.

A media planner on condition of anonymity says, “The ad rates for a 10 second slot in a channel like Big Magic Ganga used to be close to Rs 1000. But after the rural roll-out now it would be somewhere between Rs 2000-3000. Post January we might see a further inclination to the ad rates depending on how the broadcasters plan out their strategy.”

Creating content is not enough to reach out to a huge number. Every initiative needs to be backed by aggressive marketing says Padmanabhan. He further adds, “We believe in marketing each and every product independently. If a particular product needs an aggressive on-ground push, we opt for on-ground marketing initiatives. Depending on the product, we curate our marketing strategy. Radio, print, outdoor, cross network promotions are the mediums that we normally use.”

The COO wants to see the channel an undisputed leader not only in terms of viewership but also content and revenue. “170 – 180 GRP is what I am eying at in terms of viewership while a 200 to 300 per cent surge in the ad rates is my target in terms of ad-revenue growth. I am confident that by January once the new rating phenomenon settles down we will meet the target” Padmanabhan concludes.

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