Broadcasters are mounting their programming ever since they opted out of Free Dish and the introduction of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) New Tariff Order (NTO).
Viacom18 is one of them. The network recently decided to rebrand its free-to-air (FTA) channels, Rishtey and Cineplex, bringing them under the Colors’ umbrella. Rebranded as Colors Rishtey and Colors Cineplex, the channels have been established as premium urban entertainment destinations available on a pay model.
Though Rishtey had successfully created a brand identity over the years, the broadcaster thought it would be a wise decision to add the Colors tag to the channels. Speaking about their decision to revamp its brand identity, Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head, Hindi Mass Entertainment and Kids TV Network, Viacom18, said, “It was a very simple decision. I think Colors Rishtey has a rub-off of the mother brand. It has a brand association of its own and the moment they know it is from the house of Colors, they automatically have a brand perception. Colors Rishtey has moved away from Free Dish and now we are a full-fledged pay channel. We are now available in the Colors wala pack at Re1 per day and because of that, we will get some great distribution for Rishtey per se.”
Over the last few years, Rishtey as a stand-alone brand enjoyed good viewership for their repeat content, especially in the rural market on the back of DD Free Dish. However, with the TRAI’s NTO coming into effect, the broadcaster decided to remove the channel from Free Dish.
Jaipuria said from Rishtey’s perspective, moving away from Free Dish provides them with an opportunity to explore newer revenue streams through subscription and rethink monetisation opportunities. “It also provides us with the opportunity to explore original content for the channel. With shows like Hum Saaf Saaf Hai and Navrangi Re!, we are exploring the 9pm-10pm weekend time band as an originals’ slot. For Colors Cineplex, the implication of moving to pay has a more direct benefit. As an FTA channel, we could not premiere movies. We first had to run them on a pay channel and then bring it to Rishtey Cineplex, one year after the movie’s theatrical release. Moving the movie channel to pay removes this restriction. We can now premiere all our movies directly on Colors Cineplex.”
With Colors Rishtey being included in the pay model, the channel becomes a second-run GEC while Colors Cineplex becomes the first pay movie channel from the Viacom18 stable. Since the channels are pay, it can no longer depend only on repeats and have to revamp its FPC.
Asked how Colors Rishtey will be different from their premium brand Colors, Jaipuria commented, “We will see Colors Rishtey as newer and better for two reasons. One, we have already started original programming with Navrangi Re and Hum Saath Saath Hai!. Secondly, now we also have FPC, which is fresher because we don’t have to wait for a year to put back content on the channel. Naagin 3 is already on the channel and it is a refresher, so if someone has to catch up with Naagin 3 they can start from Rishtey. It is going to be a much fresher FPC, compared to our past line-up. It also acts as a refresher for some of our iconic channels, as well. If somebody has to recall those shows then they can watch Colors Rishtey. Also, Colors is well established as a premium urban Hindi General Entertainment Channel.”
Colors Rishtey is planning to introduce new originals in the future. It has also added some new re-freshers like Naagin Season3, Dance Deewane, Bigg Boss and Madhubala. For Colors Cineplex, the network has acquired rights for some blockbusters such as Brahmastra, Student of the Year 2, RAW, Drive, The Body, Thackeray, Fraud Saiyaan, including titles from the Viacom18 stable.
In today’s ecosystem where consumers have a choice to pay only for their preferred channels, it is important to offer engaging content to attract viewers. In order to make sure that Colors stays as the preferred choice of the viewers, the broadcaster is bending backwards to become the preferred brand for the viewers.
Jaipuria stated, “Our content on the weekend and weekday is rock solid. Our weekday programming is looking fabulous, now, with Shakti and Udaan already being there along with our latest show, which is doing well for us. We have Kesari Nandan, Gathbandhan, Jhansi Ki Rani, Sitara and Tantra. While we have a concrete FPC during weekday primetime, we are offering non-prime time content, giving additional original hours with shows like Khatra Khatra Khatra and Kitchen Champion.”
Recently, Colors started an afternoon slot featuring shows like Khatra Khatra Khatra and Kitchen Champion. In the last few years, several GECs have taken a gamble with afternoon slots but failed to sustain. Star Plus had started an afternoon slot Star Dopahar in 2017 with four original shows but decided to wrap it up within six months. In 2018, Colors decided to test waters with the launch of weekend shows like Baahubali: The Lost Legends, Aunty Boli Lagao Boli and Rasoi Ki Jung Mummyon Ke Sung in the afternoon slot.
Asked if the decision to start a weekday afternoon slot came at the back of the success of weekend programming, Jaipuria replied, “The decision to start an afternoon slot came due to the ratings, which is a combination of prime time and non-primetime. If we want to make sure that we continue our number one and two ranks then it is important for us to look at our non-prime time as well. More than that we also want to make sure that we are presenting varieties to our viewers. Kitchen Champion is a very different genre where viewers get to see their favourite star in the kitchen for a cook-off. The show has kids as the judge, which adds to the whole proposition. Colors has been a pioneer in experimenting with content and we want to ensure that the afternoon slot is not about the repeats but also about the different genres.”
Following TRAI’s NTO, the distribution ecosystem has gone for an overhaul. As a result, BARC has decided not to announce ratings on the public platform. In the current scenario, the ratings are only available for the BARC subscribers.
Speaking about advertisers’ response after the rating blackout, Jaipuria said, “Though the ratings are not out on public platforms, viewers are watching. There is no blackout on television, so as an entertainment provider and broadcaster, we ensure we continue giving world-class content to the consumers. Advertisers are there on the channels but it is a period where they will wait and check it out. Again, brands need promotion. They are out there waiting in the shop to be purchased and if there is no promotion, there will be no sale. They have to continue with or without ratings. So, we have advertisers even at this period.”