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Star Plus to launch afternoon band, create new ad inventory

MUMBAI: Hindi general entertainment channels (GECs) had abandoned the afternoon band and were competing only on the prime-time evening hours with original shows to lure viewers and advertisers. Star Plus, the genre leader, is set to change that game from April.

After a gap of about eight years, Star Plus has decided to get back its afternoon band. The new time zone will allow it to create new advertising inventory, at rates that could draw in a new band of advertisers. Besides, it would be the only channel among the Hindi GECs to have original content in that time band to particularly tap women viewers, at least for some time now.

Star Plus will have four shows to build the afternoon band, including a sequel to ‘Diya Aur Baati Hum’, a Balaji Telefilms co-produced show and an adaptation of the popular Turkish show ‘Fatmagul’.

The afternoon band, called ‘Star Plus Dophar’, will launch on 3 April. It will run from 12.30 to 2.30 pm, every Monday to Friday, starting 3 April.

All Producers and Star Spokesperson come together to announce 'Star Dophara' (1) (2)

Star Plus has been expanding its original programming hours for the past few months. With the launch of these shows, the channel will have 50 and a half hours of fresh content per week, up from its existing 40 and a half hours of original programming.

Star Plus president and head of content Gaurav Banerjee feels that the network is equipped to create the afternoon band as it is a leader in the genre. “We are the largest story-telling platform and spend a lot of time and money on getting our content right. Our success rates are very good so we try to draw from these strengths. If you look at current data, out of the top 10 fiction shows, six belong to Star Plus. We have a strong lead with 70-odd GRPs, largely driven by long time spent compared to other channels. We are the leader because people watch more shows on Star Plus than any other channels. Thus, on both those parameters, we are going in the right direction, and of course there is scope for further improvement,” he said.

Mr. Gaurav Banerjee addressing the media

Star Plus GM Narayan Sundararaman elaborates on the strategy. “As the leader, we are focusing on growing the category. Our category will grow in two ways—through good shows and through an increase in the number of viewers. This thought of expanding our viewership with good content has led us to build programming hours and to create this new afternoon slot.”

Mr.Narayan Sundararaman - GM, Star Plus

Shashi SinhaIPG Mediabrands CEO Shashi Sinha believes that there is a viewership in that time band that could find interest among advertisers. “It is a good opportunity for advertisers as afternoon slots are meant for housewives. The viewership has always been there.”

The new ‘Star Plus Dophar’ will feature shows such as ‘Kya Kasoor Hai Amla Ka?’—an adaptation of the popular Turkish show ‘Fatmagul’—which will be produced by Purnendu Shekhar, Nandita Mehra and Bhairavi Raichura of 24 Frames. The show will be aired at 12.30 pm, followed by ‘Tu Sooraj Mein Saanjh, Piyaji’ at 1 pm, a sequel to its flagship show ‘Diya Aur Baati Hum’, produced by Shashi-Sumeet Productions.

Producers Shashi & Sumeet Mittal announced the sequel of Diya Aur Baati Hum - 'Tu Sooraj Main Saanjh Piyaji'
At 1.30 pm, there will be Ved Raj and Dheeraj Sarna’s ‘Ek Aastha Aisi Bhee’, a story of a girl who brings a fresh and unique perspective on faith. The new property will end at 2 pm with ‘Dhhai Kilo Prem’, which is created and produced by Sandiip Sikcand in collaboration with Balaji Telefilms.

Mr. Sandiip Sikchand. Producer of 'Dhhai Kilo Prem'

Banerjee said that the channel’s focus is more on bringing in diverse stories than expanding the programming hours. He also reiterated that the time slot does not matter as long as the content is engaging.

Talking about the reintroduction of the afternoon time band, Sundararaman stated that earlier the competition was limited and the viewership was at a certain level.

“Since then, a lot has happened in the Indian television industry and the overall viewership has also changed. Now we know that there is a sizeable audience for the afternoon slot. We need to build this habit of watching original content in the afternoon because we think it has potential, and it is our step towards ensuring the growth of TV viewership,” he added.

The channel has decided not to showcase any repeat of these new shows. Talking about the strategy of avoiding repeats, Sundararaman said, “We will try to get as many samplings as possible for this slot, and we will also monitor the situation and tweak our repeat strategy if we have to. We will take a holistic look at our programming and then decide which show should deserve a repeat. For now, there are no repeats, but people can catch up with the episodes through Hotstar.”

PM BalakrishnanGiving a media buyer’s perspective on Star Plus’ new strategy, Allied Media CEO PM Balakrishnan said, “The afternoon slot is definitely a positive move. There is a demand for fresh content in the afternoon since it will mainly cater to housewives. If the content is up to the mark and garners eyeballs, then it is a viable opportunity for advertisers. Also, given the ongoing inventory crunch, the afternoon slot provides advertisers with a new opportunity. Those who can’t invest in prime time can now invest in the afternoon slot.”