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Is it IPL vs Reality again? Hindi GECs take the fight to IPL

With the increase in consumption of ‘other’ content during IPL seasons, the GECs are all set to challenge the mega cricket event this time with bigger and more expensive properties

Raushni Bhagia| Mumbai | March 14, 2016

IPL-GEC

It was a big buzz in 2009, when close to 150 hours of content was thrown on the floor by the Hindi GECs right after the end of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament. It was an obvious step as all the launches were either postponed or stalled for two months during the telecast of the second season of IPL. The cricket event was eating up as much as 15-18 percent viewership of the Hindi GEC genre and GECs wanted to count every penny that they put into content generation. Such was the impact of the tournament on the cricket-hungry nationthat Bollywood too preferred to go on a break from new releases.

A similar trend was noted the following year, when the GECs launched close to 45 showsright after the IPL in 2010. Some of these included KhatronKeKhiladi, ChotteMiyan and India’s Got Talent on Colors. Zee TV launched ChakDhoomDhoom, DID Li’l Masters and other reality formats.

Star Plus brought in Zara NachKeDikha, NachBaliye and Perfect Bride Season 2 in the reality genre, SaathnibhanaSathiya and Chand ChupaBaadalMein in drama, and Mahabharata in mythology.

Sony had Indian Idol, JhalakDikhlaja, Boogie Woogie and Duska Dum. But because of Yash Raj association with the channel, we may also see 4-5 shows from this banner too.

New confidence

However, with the increase in the consumption of ‘other’ content during the IPL seasons, the GECs slowly revived their confidence and launched shows alongside. In the ninth season of the tourney in 2016, the GECs are going ahead to challenge the biggest event with bigger and more expensive properties.

With the launch of The Kapil Sharma Show on Sony, Saregamapa on Zee TV and prospective launch of India’s Got Talent on Colors during IPL season 9, viewers are sure to get spoilt with options. For the last few seasons, there have been show launches and important twists and turns in the existing shows by the entertainment channels.

The GECs did try to fight the mega cricketainment show in its debut season using the expensive newer format reality properties like KyaAapPaanchvi Pass Se TezHain and Rock-n- Roll. However, the efforts, monies and concepts were wasted against IPL which turned out to be a gigantic cocktail of swashbuckling cricket and a rizzmataz of entertainment.

Listed below are some of the weapons posed by GECs against the major disrupter, IPL:

IPL 1:

Star/ KyaAapPaanchvi Pass Se TezHain?

Zee/ Rock-N-Roll Family

INX Media/ Chak De Bachche

IPL 2:

Zee TV/ AgleJanamMoheBitiya Hi Kijo

IPL 3:

Sony/ GodhBharai (7.30 pm - pre match)

Imagine TV/ Jamuniya and Kaashi

Zee TV/ Do Saheliyan...Kismat Ki Kathputliyan

Sab TV/ GuturGu

Star Plus/ SasuralGendaPhool

IPL 5:

Star Plus/ Jo JeetaWohi Superstar 2

SAB TV/ Movers & Shakers

Zee TV/ Dance India Dance Li’l Masters 2/ PhirSubahHogi

Colors/Chhal – ShehAurMaat/ Kairi – RishtaKhattaMeetha

IPL 6:

Zee TV / BadalteRishton Ki Dastaan

Colors/ Bani

Life OK/ KaisaYehIshqHaiAjabSa Risk Hai

IPL 7:

Star Plus/ EkHasinaThi

Zee TV/ KumkumBhagya

Sony/ Encounter

IPL 9: Slated launches

Zee TV/ Saregamapa/ Vishkanya

Sony/ TheKapil Sharma Show

Colors/ India’s Got Talent/ MeriAwaz Hi PehchanHai

It is quite clear from the above trend that despite a decline in viewership of the genre, the channels have found fresh energy to launch expensive properties (not just fiction). Even if we keep the fiction launches out of consideration, TKSS, IGT and Saregamapa represent a much bigger ballgame. TKSS is reportedly costing Sony over Rs 1.3 crore per episode and the production costs of the other two reality shows will also be at least six to seven times that of fiction shows. Fiction launches right before or during the IPL include Kasam (Colors), EkDujeKeVaste and Kuch Rang PyarKeAiseBhi (Sony) and Vishkanya (Zee TV)

Gamble or calculated counter-attack?

NP Singh NP Singh

Sony Pictures Networks India CEO NP Singh has shown immense confidence about the vastness of the universe and possibilities of co-existence of various genres. “We have such a huge television viewing audience in the country that any content need not eat up other’s pie. I am quite sure that Kapil Sharma will find its own audience while IPL has its ever growing reach and affinity.”

However, in 2010 (IPL 3), channel heads did agree in many media reports that IPL is a strong competitor for the genre. Another broadcaster who did not wish to be named pointed out that possibly no big launches was, in a way, supporting IPL to garner eyeballs. “Since we didn’t get into the fight mode earlier, all the traction went to the tournament. However, it can be the other way round, that the event has found its settled and loyal viewers, and has left some space for the other types of content to be consumed.”

So,is it the inactivity of GECs which paved the way for IPL? “I don’t think the calculation is so simple. There are many elements playing their part in the viewership and advertising game. The hype of the extravagant tournament has definitely not gone down,” clarified PM Balakrishnan (popularly known as Bala), an industry expert and former COO of Allied Media.

Akash Chawla Akash Chawla

Supporting the cause of creating competition on TV, Akash Chawla, Business Head of Essel Vision Productions which is producing Saregamapa, suggested that there’s clearly no shying away from IPL. “There are many obstructions in the GEC timeline like cricket, vacations and rains, but we are coping with all that. Plus, cricket runs round the year now, there’s no ‘cricket season’ that audiences wait for. We have had very successful shows including AgleJanam and DID Li’l Masters which did amazingly well despite being launched just before or during the IPL.”

Chawla said that the loyal audience for an existing show format will never go out of the upcoming seasons.

All said and done, will the money flow?

There is quite a lot of flow of money in the market, and especially in the GEC genre, agree all media experts, planners and buyers.

Bala shows positivity in advertisers’ response considering that this is a high buying period for them. “There will definitely be lesser possibility of negotiations for the broadcasters, but sectors like FMCG, telecom, e-commerce and some others thrive on GECs as their staple diet. It is possible that the broadcasters will have to promise some additional comforts – read value additions – to the advertisers if these shows don’t perform as expected.”

It must be noted that IPL also has a restriction of category of advertisers. To explain it further, no two players (advertisers) from the same sector will be investing in IPL under the same sponsorship category. So, if Oppo is a presenting sponsor with IPL 2016, there is no scope for another player. “That’s how TKSS makes a much better deal for Lava Mobiles, rather than compromising with the regular sponsorship deal for IPL. The OTS (opportunity to see) for abrand increases with the tag of ‘presenting sponsor’. So, Vodafone on IPL will mean that Airtel and Idea will possibly look around for other options,” explained Pratik Rathod of Maxus.

It must be noted that Vivo Mobiles is the on-ground sponsor for IPL and not the telecast presenting sponsor.

Ravishankar N, Media Partner, Media Planning Associates, suggests that though the viewership of the shows might still be higher, the business is likely to suffer. “Fiction will have to compromise with viewership, but the reality shows might attract certain numbers. However, the rates and offers of the broadcasters will be negotiated too much against IPL. At the same time, categories like FMCG and handsets with stick to GECs.”

He confidently pointed out that the monies will go into the other showsonly if the CPRP works out for them. The advertisers will purely focus on whether or not ‘his brand’s TG’ is watching IPL or reality.

Loyal or flirt?

By definition and observation, the 20:20 format of cricket majorly attracts a lot of flirting audience, agree most media experts. Similarly, the performance of reality shows is also decided basis their set of swinging audience. While everyone is agreeing that the viewership of the tournament has gone down and is continuously decreasing, the fact is that many new viewers are added to IPL each season.

“The time spent by per viewer on IPL is coming down gradually. However, the number of people watching the tourney is increasing. This means that while ratings decrease, the reach is increasing. So, while people are coming for a lesser time to the game, where are they spending their rest of the time on TV? This is the deciding question for the new content,” explained Ravishankar.

He also believes that more youngsters are watching IPL and that there is still a higher age-group to tap through the reality shows.

Bala, on the other hand, believes that while IPL continues to be the favourite of audiences, the other shows will also get some traction. “IPL attracts many new viewers to the platform (TV) which makes this the best time to increase sampling beyond the existing universe of TV viewing people. Plus, while the other shows are available and can be watched during repeats, I don’t think people really pay attention to TV viewing beyond the primetime,” said Bala.

He is hopeful about the performance of all the content on the platform sincethe market is growing, and more viewers and better quality of viewership is being observed. This ultimately is inviting a lot of money to the TV revenue.

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