Key trends that ruled Hindi GEC genre in 2017

MUMBAI: 2017 was an action-packed year for Hindi general entertainment channels (GECs) with key players experimenting with new content formats, creating new time slots, and channels getting revamped and re-positioned to keep the audiences engaged.

Even as questions were raised about the overall viewership growth of Hindi GECs, the genre saw a 5% jump in average impressions post the expansion of BARC universe.

Post the universe expansion, Hindi GECs recorded the average impression of 5.84 billion compared to the data of Week 1-52 2016 where the average impression was 5.58 billion, as per BARC India data for week 8-52.

Introduction of new time bands

The most defining trend of 2017 was the introduction of the afternoon slot by Star Plus. It’s another matter that the broadcaster had to close it down due to poor ratings.

Star Plus tried to revive the trend of afternoon viewing by launching a new property ‘Star Plus Dopahar’. The channel revived its afternoon slot after the gap of eight years.

The property was launched with four half-hour shows, namely ‘Kya Kasoor Hai Amla Ka?’, ‘Tu Sooraj Mein Saanjh, Piyaji,’ ‘Ek Aastha Aisi Bhee’ and ‘Dhhai Kilo Prem’ between 12 noon and 2 pm.

After initial traction, the channel expanded the afternoon band by half an hour with the launch of ‘Love Hai Intezaar’ at 2.30 pm.

However, the increase in afternoon programming hours didn’t help in reviving the viewership and the slot was eventually closed down.

Even as Star Plus pulled out of the afternoon slot, Colors entered the fray albeit with a different strategy. The channel limited its afternoon programming only to Sunday afternoon and unlike Star Plus concentrated only on the game shows.

The channel’s first show in the slot was interactive game show ‘Aunty Boli Lagao Boli’ in September at 12 noon, followed by a culinary show ‘Rasoi Ki Jung Mummyon Ke Sung’ in November at 1 pm and Amazon Prime’s original animated series ‘Baahubali: The Lost Legends’ in December at 11.30 am.

Thus, the channel slowly and steadily built a two-hour original programming block in the afternoon slot. With ‘Aunty Boli Lagao Boli’ coming to an end, the channel has one and half hour of original programming.

Apart from Sunday afternoon slots, Colors also introduced 7 pm slot on Saturday and Sunday with the launch of fiction mythological show ‘Mahakaali’.

Colors’ experimentation was not just limited to the afternoon slot. It also opened the early prime-time slot by ‘Thapki Pyar Ki’ in the 5 pm slot. This was followed by the launch of two more shows ‘Bhaag Bakul Bhagg’ and ‘Savitri Devi College and Hospital’ at 5.30 pm and 6 pm respectively. However, in September, the channel did away with the 5 pm slot.

Sony Entertainment Television (SET) also went about filling up vacant time slots. The channel introduced 7.30 pm slot on weekdays with the launch of ‘Peshwa Bajirao Following the positive response, the channel opened the 7 pm slot with ‘Yeh Moh Moh Ke Dhaagey’. However, the shows were discontinued after they failed to attract audiences. SET removed the 7 pm slot and replaced ‘Peshwa Bajirao’ with the new devotional show ‘Mere Sai’.

Revamp and repositioning

2017 will also be remembered for the revamp and repositioning of many channels. Three channels Star India’s Life OK, Sony Pictures Networks India’s (SPNI) SAB TV and ZEEL’s Zee TV underwent a change in look and content.

Star India made a significant move by revamping its second Hindi GEC Life OK as Star Bharat beginning August. The channel was also Doordarshan’s free direct to home (DTH) platform Freedish to reach out to the rural audiences. Star Bharat remained a pay channel even as it was targeting rural audiences through Freedish.

The new identity was complemented with a total revamp of the content offering with the broadcaster retaining just one show ‘Savdhaan India’. At launch, the channel had five new shows besides ‘Savdhaan India’ including devotional music reality show ‘Om Shanti Om’, a political drama ‘Saam Daam Dand Bhed’ and revenge drama ‘Ayushman Bhav,’and a sitcom ‘Kya Haal Mr. Panchaal’ and Nimki Mukhiya.

Star India’s strategy of revamping the channel worked well as the channel has consistently claimed the top position in urban + rural HSM.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Zee TV also underwent a change in the logo in tandem on 15 October with the network channels. The channel also adopted a new tagline ‘Aaj Likhenge Kal’. The rebranding and the introduction of new shows had a cascading effect on the channel’s viewership.

In June, SPNI revamped its light-hearted family entertainment channel SAB TV as Sony SAB under its new business head Neeraj Vyas. The channel donned a new logo and a tagline ‘Haaste Raho India’. As part of its marketing activity, the channel roped in Varun Dhawan as its brand ambassador.

While retaining its tentpole show ‘Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’, the channel launched a slew of new shows like ‘Sajjan Re Phir Jhoot Mat Bolo,’ ‘TV, Biwi Aur Main’, ‘Tenali Rama’, ‘Shankar Jay Kishan, 3-in-1’ and ‘Aadat Se Majboor’ to entice the viewers.

Key content trends

Hindi GECs experimented with new formats in order to offer variety to their viewers. Mythology and reality shows especially live interactive shows were the norm in 2017.

Colors introduced a first of its kind live interactive shows with ‘Rising Star’ and ‘India Banega Manch’. The channel acquired the format rights for both the shows from Keshet International. It also introduced game shows such ‘Aunty Boli Lagao Boli’ and ‘Rasoi Ki Jung, Mummy Ke Sang’ in the Sunday afternoon slot.

Star Plus partnered with TED Talks to launch ‘TED Talks India Nayi Soch’ with Shah Rukh Khan as the host. The channel also launched a new homegrown dance reality show ‘Dance Champions’.

Zee TV also launched a homegrown reality show dedicated to twins ‘India’s Best Judwaa’.

SET partnered Siddharth Kumar Tewary’s Swastik Productions to launch a historical drama series ‘Porus’. Unlike other shows, the IP of ‘Porus’ will be retained by the production house.

Several shows made a comeback after the long hiatus. SET brought back ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ for a ninth season after a three-year gap. Star Plus launched ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’ after nine years. The shows were introduced in new formats.

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