A thousand Runs

Dec 06 2012, 21:12 IST
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SummaryIn these times of intense audience fragmentation and shifting loyalties, there are several serials on Hindi general entertainment channels that have crossed the 1000-episode milestone. What explains their non-stop run? Have creative directors run out of saleable story ideas or do these shows still have loyalists among viewers and advertisers?

can be placed at any time during the prime time, and, in the past, we have had example of shows doing well at time slots such as 10:30 pm. Most of the time, scheduling works on sheer gut feeling and broadcasters mostly rely on their judgment. Having said that, there are also cases when a broadcaster experiments with a show.” One such example is Sony’s decision to launch its supernatural serial Anamika at 8 pm.

Next is marketing. “As long as the consumer is not aware of your serial, no one is going to watch it,” said Satyajit Sen, CEO, ZenithOptimedia. Interestingly, marketing is no more restricted to a few print campaigns, a digital banner and a few outdoor hoardings. In fact, channels are taking steps to ensure that right from the characters to the storyline, everything becomes an integral part of the audience’s life. “Apart from ensuring that viewers gets to spend time with the lead characters of a particular show through various engagement programmes, special one-hour episodes also known as ‘Maha-episode’ have a special place in the heart of a channel. This gives the broadcaster a chance to create and build hype around a serial which further results in higher viewership. Again, a channel advertises about these special episodes across its networks and through other mediums. From time-to-time channels resort to such tactics,” added Sen. Hindi GEC Life Ok recently aired a series of Maha-episodes for about a week for its show, Mahadev.

Survivor’s scheme

Despite their long lifespans, it isn’t easy for these daily serials to maintain their viewership ratings. There was a time, mainly during 2000-2008 when daily serials garnered television viewer ratings (TVR) as high as 14-15 per week. Over the years, the scene has changed drastically with competition seeping in from all corners with the launch of a few more Hindi GECs as well as regional GECs. So now a serial generating rating between 3-4 is considered to be very good.

“With the rise in competition in the GEC space, fragmentation is a reality. While earlier it was easier to gain viewer loyalty for a particular show, the current scenario demands constant innovation,” said Nachiket Pantvaidya, general manager, Star Plus.

The term ‘innovation’ in this case generally refers to playing with the storyline, getting new characters, opting for a generation leap, etc. Leaps usually take place in two kind of scenarios. First, when a serial fails to get the

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