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Star Plus gambles big, brings back afternoon primetime with four new shows

The channel has announced the launch of four original shows to start building the afternoon slots between 12.30 PM and 2.30 PM from April 3. Leading the pack of new shows is the sequel of the popular serial Diya Aur Baati Hum

Raushni Bhagia | Mumbai | February 28, 2017


To awaken the afternoon slot out of its slumber, Star Plus has announced the launch of four new fiction shows – termed ‘Star Plus Dopahar’ – to run between 12.30 PM and 2.30 PM on weekdays, starting April 3. 2017.

Remember the shows Shaanti, Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka, Swabhimaan and Itihaas, which used to be our daily dose of entertainment during lunch hour? Then there was Sony’s Ghar Ek Mandir that became popular in 2000 despite being in the afternoon slot. Star Plus had launched Kumkum (one of the longest running shows), Karam Apna Apna, Hamari Devrani and Bhabhi on the same slot in 2002. Around the same time, Sony had Kutumb, Kuchh Jhuki Palkein and Dhadkan while Zee TV had Gharaana. Zee also tried its woman’s magazine on television, Zee Woman, which occupied the 12.30-3 PM band in 2014.

Around 2009-10, Colors launched original content in the afternoon time band bringing shows like Saanjhi Dopahar, Agnipareeksha Jeevan Ki-Ganga and Aise Na Karo Vida. Star Plus too, once again, tried its hand for the afternoon band with Phool Kamal Ke, Shradhha and Star Vivaah.

So, this is not the first time that the channel is launching shows in the afternoon primetime band. However, for long, the Hindi GEC viewership and content investments have been restricted to the evening primetime bands, mainly between 7 PM and 10 PM. So, why the afternoon band again?

Narayan Sundararaman Narayan Sundararaman

Narayan Sundararaman, General Manager, Star Plus, said, ''There is a sizeable television viewing audience in the afternoon. Currently the only options available to these viewers are repeat telecasts. Our aim is to present viewers with a spectrum of original content, thereby growing the entire category. The insight that has fuelled the proposition is a simple one: afternoons are the only time of the day when woman of the house has a few moments for herself. Today’s woman values her ‘me-time’ and Star Plus is committed to engage her with original stories specially created for her.''

Creating a habit

There might be a need gap in certain sections of society, but isn’t it true that viewers have long forgotten to switch on to a GEC in the lazy afternoon slots? The time band has been asleep for a long time. Other than a few sporadic attempts, as mentioned above, this time band has not really been built for loyalty by any broadcaster.

Gaurav Banerjee Gaurav Banerjee

Gaurav Banerjee, President and Head of Content Studio, Star India, said, “Honestly speaking, it will take a while to build loyalty to the slot. That’s what we figured out when we had launched new time bands in the past as well. What we now know as early primetime – we have Mere Angne Mein at 6 PM, Saath Nibhaana Saathiya at 7 PM and during late primetime at 11 PM, there is Yeh Hai Mohabbatein. It takes anywhere from three to nine months, so even here we need to have a very long term gaze on how this will deliver or on a substantial share of viewership.”

Echoing the same point, Sundararaman said, “We are trying to create a new habit of watching TV in the afternoon for these original shows. We will be committed till whatever time it takes to tell the complete story. We are conscious that it takes a lot of time to build a new habit.”

The ‘Dopahar’ line-up

The shows being launched by the channel in the afternoon slots are not on a par with the regular evening shows on any of the top GECs. The impressive line-up includes the Indian adaptation of the Turkish show Fatmagul, which has become quite popular after Zindagi (a ZEEL channel) brought it to India. The Indian makers have titled the Indianised version Kya Kasoor Hai Amla Ka? at 12.30 PM.

The second show is the sequel of the top-rated show on the genre Diya Aur Baati Hum. The new show titled Tu Sooraj Mein Saanjh, Piyaji will be launched at 1 PM. The other two shows are completely new – Ek Aastha Aisi Bhee (at 1.30pm) and Dhhai Kilo Prem at 2 PM.

A substantial chunk of women audiences are working, especially in big cities, metros and some smaller towns too. Still, the channel is sure of targeting viewers across geographies with these shows and time band.

Banerjee explained, “With Star Plus we are targeting the entire country and that is the strength of Star Plus. We can really appeal to the audiences in the metros and across the country, including the small towns. The viewership is across the board and it’s not focussed on small towns alone. We hope that the loyalists of Diya Aur Baati Hum will come to the afternoon slot to sample the sequel. It is a big call, but we are looking at a big breakthrough with this and we cannot do it without a big tent-poled show. For us, the Diya Aur Baati Hum sequel is that one show. We are hopeful that viewers will be drawn to come and watch it in the afternoon.”

Diya Aur Baati Hum has led the most watched shows’ list in the Hindi GEC genre for years together and when it went off air, it did attract a lot of criticism from its loyalists.

The channel recently stretched its evening primetime too. By launching Suhani Si Ek Ladki at 5 PM, the channel had stretched its time band from 5 PM to 11.30 PM. Isn’t it too heavy investment and too many shows?

Banerjee said, “The longest primetime does call for a huge investment but the business can support it. If we can put good shows there and attract viewership, we will be able to get advertising. Monetisation will be good and the business is built on the bank of deeper engagement. If more people come to watch for a longer time, business sense will be taken care of. Our belief is that this can take up the category viewership, the money will follow.”

At the end, if the channel is able to build the time band, it won’t be late that the other GECs will follow suit, launching major and original properties on the afternoon band. Banerjee is quite hopeful that it happens. He said, “We are looking at growing the category. Competition is good since it will help build the slot even more. If other channels also launch afternoon shows, it will be good as it will grow the entire band. I don’t know if the advertiser demand for afternoons can be as big as the evening slot but it can be substantial.”

The shows are being launched under the big banners and big producers including Shashi and Sumeet Mittal, Sandip Sikand and Balaji Telefilms, Ved Raj, Dheeraj Sarna, Purnendu Shekhar, Nandita Mehra and Bhairavi Raichura. A high-decibel 360 degree campaign will be launched to promote the shows. The band will be promoted starting February 28. The promotions will go on for four weeks and will be expanded in a phased manner.

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