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GEC 2011 - Facts beyond Fiction-Ormax Media co-founder and CEO Shailesh Kapoor

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Over the last two years, since the launch of Colors in 2008, we have come to expect a very dynamic and unpredictable Hindi GEC environment. The year 2010 was no different. Star Plus showed a resurgence in the first half of the year, backed by two successful new launches - Pratigya and Sasural Genda Phool. In the last quarter, Sony‘s rise to the no. 3 position was the big story. KBC, followed by Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, helped Sony inch ahead of Zee TV in what continues to be a see-saw battle. Also helping Sony‘s cause have been its new fiction properties - Saas Bina Sasural and Krishnaben Khakhrawala - and the fact that most of Zee TV‘s fiction launches in 2010 were non-starters, given the expectations set by the channel‘s strong pedigree in fiction content over the last few years.

But for me, the big story of 2010 was the rise of non-fiction. Amidst scepticism, KBC returned on the small screen, with a revamped format, the original host, and a new channel. The program‘s consistent deliveries in a tough weekdays 9pm slot surprised many cynics who thought Sony was flogging a dead horse. Bigg Boss too reached its best-ever performance, across four seasons. But what caught most by surprise was the incredible opening ratings of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa on Sony. Truly, the fiction vs. non-fiction divide is not the way we have known it till 2009. It is far more balanced today. The table below illustrates this point using data from our product Characters India Loves (CIL). The percentage of respondents choosing non-fiction characters over fiction characters has improved consistently in the last year and a half.

Month Fiction Share % Non-Fiction Share %
Sep 2009
80
20
Dec 2009
74
26
March 2010
75
25
June 2010
64
36
Sep 2010
64
36
Dec 2010
62
38
Each CIL study covers 2400+ respondents across six cities in 15-44 yrs. SEC ABC (70% females, 30% males)

In a highly cluttered environment characterized by ever-decreasing loyalty levels, the role of marketing became ever so important. If a new non-fiction show did not generate enough buzz when it launched, it stood very little chance of resurgence. However, for fiction, the resurgence could come over weeks, as content evolved. Many fiction shows opened to good numbers but struggled to hold on, while many others showed consistent growth on the back of powerful content.

The table below lists the top 10 non-fiction and fiction launch marketing performances in 2010, as measured by Showbuzz, which tracks the UA (Unaided Awareness) and TA (Total Awareness) of new shows on television.

Top 10 Non-fiction and Fiction Launches in 2010 (Showbuzz)
Non-Fiction Fiction
Show
UA TA
Show
UA TA
Bigg Boss 4
63 96
Gulaal
38 76
KBC
50 98
Tere Liye
35 87
Khatron Ke Khiladi 3
42 98
Ganga
34 89
DID Li‘l Masters
33 90
Kaali
30 75
Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa
31 92
Behenein
27 92
Indian Idol
30 94
Kaashi
24 71
Rahul Dulhania Le Jayega
25 92
Jamuniya
24 61
Masterchef India
19 75
Rishton Se Badi Pratha
21 79
National Bingo Night
18 78
Sasural Genda Phool
21 74
Zara Nachke Dikha
17 78
Chaand Chhupa Badal Mein
21 73

A lot rides on the first month and a half of 2011. Before the ICC World Cup and the IPL kicks in, Colors will look at making an impact within fiction in 9-10pm. If the channel has to give Star Plus a close fight for the top spot, Phulwa and Mukti Bandhan will have to necessarily deliver good numbers.

Sony has managed a steadily growing year, especially in the last four months. The channel seems set to become a consistent no. 3 in 2011, if its fiction content continues to get stronger, like it has in recent times.

But in all this, don‘t rule out the biggest story of 2010-11 - SAB TV. Breaking every notion of the GEC viewing, the family-inclusive de-stress channel has reached never-before numbers, within striking distance of Sony and Zee TV at times. The way the mood of the country is moving, it will be no surprise if SAB manages to grow further. Comedy, along with reality television, is where the next level of growth lies.

(Shailesh Kapoor is the Co-founder and CEO of Ormax Media, a company specializing in consumer research in the media and entertainment industry.)

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