The Hindi general entertainment genre — which commands a bulk in terms of both viewership and advertising on TV — may not be going through its best times. As per a recent KPMG report, the advertising expenditure (AdEx) on Hindi GECs declined by 9.05% in FY18 over the previous fiscal. The genre accounted for over 30.5% of the total AdEx on TV in FY17, which reduced to 27.7% in FY18.
“In general, a big portion of the ad spends now get allocated towards IPL. Last year, right after IPL there was GST, so the budget reallocation which should have happened towards GECs from sports didn’t happen as the spends were restricted,” says Girish Menon, partner and head— media and entertainment, KPMG India.
This isn’t, however, an impediment to investing in big budget projects. Colors recently announced the launch of Bigg Boss’ 12th season, for example. Star Plus, the current leader in the urban Hindi speaking market (HSM), is preparing to launch the sequel of the Balaji Telefilms-backed Kasautii Zindagii Kay. ZeeTV’s Kumkum Bhagya and its spin off Kundali Bhagya are keeping the channel in the running as well.
Star Plus’ reign over the top slot has been consistent for the last four weeks, prior to which Colors was leading the charts in terms of market share in 2018 for the bulk of the year so far. Zee TV, in the meantime, also had its run at the top slot for Hindi GECs for six weeks, as per BARC India data. Out of the 34 weeks gone past thus far in 2018, Colors held the top slot for 22 weeks in urban HSM.
While many attribute Colors’ performance to the current top show Naagin (3), Viacom18 group COO Raj Nayak has a different spin to it. “Yes, Naagin is one of our biggest shows, but to stay at number one, we need a healthy mix in programming.” And to get this mix right, an expensive proposition like Bigg Boss hosted by actor Salman Khan is needed for Colors, feels Nayak.
“Bigg Boss adds to the buzz of the channel, bringing in a different set of viewers. Furthermore, there is a loyal audience that we have built over the years who wait for a new season of the show,” he said admitting that while the show does get some return on investment, it is “probably not one of the most profitable shows for us”. Bigg Boss hits the airwaves during the festive season each year, when brands tend to loosen their purse-strings.
Menon believes that the business economics demand that Hindi GECs tap into the rural and regional viewers as well. “Because of the measurement changes that happened two years back, the rural and regional market started getting more coverage. With the resultant increased viewership, channels have to change their content strategy to appeal more to the masses,” Menon says.
Furthermore, as the traditional viewer has undergone a change in her thinking and preferences over the years, Hindi GECs need to play a role in reflecting that, feel experts. “Storylines that adapt to these evolving dynamics and are continuously refreshed as per the latest societal norms get accepted. Star Plus has moved with the times ahead of its competitors,” says Saumya Agarwal, associate vice-president, Vizeum Media Services (Dentsu Aegis Network).
After playing second fiddle to Star Plus for the last four weeks, will Salman Khan or Bigg Boss manage to help Colors find its way back to the top or will Star Plus continue its recent success streak with popular shows like Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai? Only time will tell.