Colors looks to build loyalty, aggregate family viewership through ‘Ram Siya Ke Luv Kush’

MUMBAI: Hindi GEC Colors is all set to strengthen prime-time slot with the launch of its magnum opus ‘Ram Siya Ke Luv Kush’ on 5th August. The show will air every Monday to Friday at 8.30 pm.

Speaking to Viacom18 head Hindi, Kids TV clusters Nina Elavia Jaipuria said that the new show aims at bringing back variety. It is also about building brand loyalty and about being the place where the family can congregate which is important given that the majority of India is still a single TV home. The aim is to also bring back lapsed viewers. Mythology as a genre for her is important as it is a universal unifier. It cuts across all age groups.

“‘Ram Siya Ke Luv Kush’ is a show that can be watched by the whole family. It is very inclusive. The appeal cuts across generations. It also cuts across geographies. Viewers embrace this genre no matter which geography they are in whether they are in Metros or in tier 1 or tier two towns and cities. Therefore, it is a very important genre for us to dive into.”

She noted that 8:30 pm on weekdays is a competitive slot. “Let us not shy away from that. We do have audiences that are very loyal to shows that are currently on that slot. But like I said mythology cuts ice across families and age groups. Mythology will strengthen that slot for us. We have already strengthened primetime quite a lot on the weekdays with ‘Choti Sardarni’ for example from the heartland of Punjab which was our recent launch and has doubled our share at 7:30 pm. We then have ‘Shakti’ which is a show on social reform. We have ‘Bahu Begum’ which is nuanced in a very different setting and community.”

Colors had recently rejigged its early prime-time slot by launching a new show in 7.30 pm slot and extending the duration of one of its existing shows.

The channel launched a new show ‘Choti Sarrdaarni’ in 7.30 pm slot which airs from Monday-Friday. It also extended the duration of ‘Khatra Khatra Khatra’ (KKK) to one hour from 1st July. KKK now airs at 6.30 pm.

Two shows, namely ‘Udann’ and ‘Ishq Mein Marjawan’, went going off-air. Launched in September 2017, ‘Ishq Mein Marjawan’ aired in the 7.30 pm slot. ‘Udann’, which has been airing since August 2014, occupied the 7 pm slot.

According to Jaipuria, mythology will strengthen Colors’ weekday primetime. ‘Ram Siya Ke Luv Kush’, she said, will be one of the channel’s driver shows. It is hopeful that the show will strengthen Colors’ weekday primetime. She further stated that another driver show ‘Bigg Boss’ will return during the weekend. Together with the weekday fiction offerings, the channel will have a good content mix.

At the same time, she noted that for a mythological show to work one needs to be true to the story. “We have taken great care and when we partnered with Siddharth we are very sure that we are reliving that whole era all over again. With the detailing that we have done on the sets, costumes and the research, the show will be extensive and elaborate. To me, this is what makes mythology very rich and effective with viewers.”

She added that Colors under the new tariff order (NTO) is doing well. “We realised that a lot of viewers have chosen us. We are in the top three in terms of reach which means that viewers love us and continue to see us.”

She noted that the show’s ideation was more to do with the success that Colors had enjoyed with working with Swastik Productions. “Looking at the loyalty and viewership that we had on ‘Mahakaali’ and ‘Shani’ which were two very successful shows on the channel we said that we wanted to continue and give variety to our viewers. While we do reality, fiction, drama, dance and all of that we felt the need to also give some bit of mythology. That is when we said that if we were to do something differentiated as ‘Mahakaali’ and ‘Shani’ were differentiated and had never been done before then how can we treat Ramayana differently? That is when the idea came that we can do the story from the perspective of Luv and Kush.”

Jaipuria said that Colors’ version of Ramayana will be fresh given that other versions stopped with Lord Ram returning victorious to Ayodhya. “But for us, this will be our starting point. We go back to Ramayana through Luv Kush’s perspective. It is going to be about how instrumental the children were in reuniting their parents. As a channel, we believe in doing things very differently. We experiment and take the risks and offer variety. We went ahead with the show after hearing the concept.”

The challenge for her is putting money where the mouth is. After all, any mythological show is heavy on investments. “Therefore, you want to make sure that while you make those investments you reap the reward in terms of viewership and from that comes advertising income. At the end of the day, we are running a business and we have to make business sense of being an entertainer. We have various views on how to run budgets across our scripted and unscripted shows. At the end of the day, we have to make sure that we work with healthy margins. It is a mixed bag and it is a bag which has expensive and not so expensive content.”

The other challenge, of course, is to make sure that the Ramayana needs to be different and unique. “The challenge is to live up to the fullness of the show. It is to ensure that you have detailed and researched it so much and you also have to make it a magnum opus. With our sets, we have re-created Ayodhya, ghats, the forest.”

In terms of the advertiser response, she noted that a Basmati brand is already on board. “As soon as advertisers see the magnum opus that we have put up they will flock to us very soon. To me, if we get the viewer then the business will just follow.”

She said that Colors has explored the maximum number of genres. For Colors, it is all about the width and depth of content. The broadcaster recently also entered the romantic suspense thriller genre. “With mythology now coming in, we have created a very well-balanced offering for our viewers. This offering will help us stay true to what Colors stands for which is being unique, different and offering variety.”

Before green-lighting a show, Colors does a lot of research to figure out the current trends, what works. “Mythology is a trend where we always get viewers back. We try to figure out where are consumers today? What their lifestyles? What are their perspectives? What phase of life are they in? We have to make sure that we have the pulse of the audience. We know what their entertainment needs are and how we can cater to them,” Jaipuria stated.

She also mentioned that consumers seek more and get more. They are evolving in their choices whether it is platform or technology. “They look at media as something that can help them navigate everyday life. They look at media as being something that can help them live a happy life, as something that can take them out of the routine that they have and get into a fictional world that gives them an escape. Different genres give different results and so variety works the best for Colors.”

She pointed out that while meaningful content is important it is not necessary that all content is meaningful. “Whatever entertains works. A suspense thriller works but is not necessarily meaningful. Content takes you through different emotions, which is the beauty of content. Content should walk the viewer through emotions. Of course, Colors as a brand is also true to social reform right from our ‘Balika Vadhu’ days to ‘Shakti’. We pick up a cause and we go after it and this has helped us evolve as a brand.”

On the marketing side, the plan is to go beyond the mass media. For instance, the broadcaster is doing a Yatra in Lucknow which will go from city to city across Uttar Pradesh. Viewers can do Darshan and share the story of Ramayana through holograms. The aim is to drive show sampling, the channel has also done a partnership with Google Assist to enable viewers to interact with the show’s actors.

In terms of key markets, she mentions that the Hindi heartland is important but at the same time the Metros also contribute a lot to Colors’ viewership. “Mumbai and Delhi continue to be big markets for us.”

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