Dangal seeks to ramp up original TV programing

Five new shows are planned; one will debut next week.

MUMBAI: In March 2019, the big four networks pulled out of DD’s  FreeDish service as TRAI’s new tariff order did not allow FTA (free to air) channels’ inclusion in the pay channel bouquet. However, it was the apt time for FTA channels to make merry.

One such network was Enterr10 Television. The network’s Hindi FTA GEC Dangal TV gained significant viewers and today, it is one of the most popular Hindi GECs.

Its top shows, Ramayan and Crime Alert, among others, brought it a one-fifth share of the viewership in the Hindi-speaking market (HSM), Many of the current shows on Dangal TV include those based on Indian mythology and reruns, sprinkled with a few original productions.

“We have observed that putting original content has been a game changer for the other players in the market. Creating original content is the only way forward,” says Enterr10 Television COO Deep Drona. “ I have observed that the audience in FTA space is no more different then the  paid audience in terms of wanting to watch good entertainment.”

He also highlights that TV  consumption amongst viewers is back to normal because the original programs are back on track. Drona believes that the many Hindi GEC channels with fresh programming line-up have significant advantage over other channels.

He is quite optimistic about a new show- Aye Mere Humsafar - which is going to hit the screens in the coming week. Another four new series will debut on Dangal over the next two months, taking costs up by 40 to 50 per cent.

According to him Dangal continued to be the leader in the rural market for the initial three months of the lockdown in terms of viewership; ad revenues however did not match up to the audience surge. But Drona points out that currently the channel is faring better than the pre-Covid2019 level with inventory fill  levels going back to what they were before the pandemic. He shares that adex had softened in the months of May and June but now things are getting back to normal.

When most of the channels are worried about IPL, Drona thinks the entire FTA space will be spared from the brunt of the cricket extravaganza. He opines that the impact of IPL will not be very high especially for FTA channels.

In its thirteenth year, the IPL is coinciding with the festival season, which is expected to lead to a reallocation of ad spends on TV. Drona shares that as IPL is a large property and everybody knows what kind of rating it can deliver; channels have planned a certain strategy to overcome this.

“IPL is also coming at a time where viewers are dying for live sports content. So, there are many things that are going in its favour,” he explains. “For the past six to seven seasons it has been observed that IPL ratings do not disrupt GECs anymore. But this time it is a unique year no one can predict what will happen because it is coming during festivities. However, it will shake the advertising revenue and viewership.”

His view is that  post-the- Covid2019 and lockdown period,  rural India  appears to be showing signs of a rebound; urban seems to be lagging behind, because many cities are partially contained still. With DD FreeDish more accessible in rural areas, it’s no wonder that Dangal has become a favourite hunting ground for FMCG advertisers.

Says MediaDonuts MD Vidhu Sagar: “Advertisers are fundamentally interested in reach. The fact that audiences are flocking to  FTA channels such as Dangal, effectively turning them into potent messaging delivery avenues, is a win-win situation for both advertisers and the channel. The channels have chosen to forgo potential subscription revenues only since they believe greater audience traction would more than make up by way of advertising revenues. And advertisers are basically ROI-oriented. Greater reach is the most preferred option. If it’s courtesy of FTA channels like Dangal, so be it, that is just the way the cookie crumbles.”

Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are very strong markets for Dangal as majority of its audiences come from this belt.: “There is a lot of work to be done in places like Gujarat, Rajasthan and other urban markets but our strengths lie in the Hindi speaking belt,” reveals Drona. “As of now, we will continue to focus on these markets.”

The channel is currently working with Swastik Productions, Shashi Sumeet Productions, Rashmi Sharma Telefilms and few others. Dangal is also looking at creating more home-based shows in the near future.

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