Star Plus has lately been using fiction shows to create a primetime opportunity on weekends as well. It recently announced an extension of its fiction show programming to seven days a week - that has already started from October 2.
The channel is trying to develop a distinct format to increase viewership and by doing this it is also attempting to break the established norm, but the question is whether or not it will be successful in the long run and what this means for the advertisers.
Kevin Vaz, Head, Network Entertainment Channels, Disney Star, shared his thoughts on the motive of this particular content strategy and move. He said, “Our content strategy revolves around serving the entertainment needs of our viewers. We understand their preferences and they want to have continuity of the shows they love all through the week. Our shows and iconic characters enjoy immense popularity and fans want to engage more with our stories and characters and what better way to do so than having seven-day programming.”
Star Plus has a continuity strategy in place with the production houses that they work with, to roll out 7 days worth of fiction content. Additional units have been set up for every show and this process has truly worked for them, Vaz shared.
Rachana Shah Monteiro, Senior Vice-President at Starcom, meanwhile, said that this is not a brand-new strategy that Star has adopted but it is something that Star has explored in the past too.
Monteiro pointed out that on weekends when the channels have differentiated content, they tend to lose loyal viewers. However, it's just a very temporary move according to her. It is about promoting numerical stability; once the numbers stabilise, Star will move out from this gradually.
According to Mansi Datta, Chief Client Officer, North & East, Wavemaker, weekends attract good viewership and have higher time spent. The decision to air fiction shows on the weekend by Star can turn out to be a gamble as other channels have reality show offerings at the same time.
Star Plus is experimenting with this move as it has been getting good traction for its drama shows, added Datta. She said shows like ‘Anupama’ do really well, as per data, it garners even more viewership as compared to reality shows. Additionally, if the channel can manage to have cliff-hanging moments during the weekends, it could lead to the audience getting hooked, Datta added.
A lot of study and understanding of the market and viewer preference goes into any broadcaster’s content and channel strategy. Hence any content is mostly planned based on the viewers’ preferences and quality is a top priority for the broadcasters.
Vaz highlighted, “We focus on providing high-quality content irrespective of the format. If we have a good concept in hand that we know our viewers will enjoy, we will bring that on our channel – whether it is fiction or non-fiction. Our recently concluded non-fiction show ‘Ravivaar with Star Parivaar’ was much-loved by viewers, this is a testament to our continued endeavour to delight our viewers with best-in-class content.”
According to Vaz, they are mostly heartened by the response to their shows and this is the reason why they are looking forward to rolling out the seven-day programming for their viewers.
What does it mean for the advertisers?
In such strategies generally, the volumes go up for the channels, however, the ad rates depend on the type of content the advertisers are buying. Monteiro said that it is more about content-driven pricing for advertisers, than it is about weekend versus weekday, so if it is repeat content the prices will be less. If it is an impact show then a similar kind of pricing will remain for the weekend too for that show.
So, the only difference is that both the broadcasters and the advertisers will get more audience, hence the cost for the consumer is going to be more efficient in this case.
However, weekends tend to get more viewers for the broadcasters that they generally don’t get as viewers are always looking for differentiated content. If the content is the same the broadcasters will not get many viewers and at the end of the day it is all about the demand and supply game, added Monteiro.
Meanwhile, Vaz believes that having an offering that is engaging to viewers is Star’s goal, and if they succeed at this, they believe that both ratings and revenue will follow. He said, “Viewers are our North Star.”
“Entertaining our viewers is of utmost importance to us, and ratings are a byproduct of that. We look forward to entertaining our viewers all days of the week,” he added.
As per Datta, weekends have good viewership and if the fiction shows perform well, then the channel can command ad rates based on the viewership trend.
If these slots deliver well for the channel, then it will definitely result in high demand for inventory.
Moreover, the advertising volumes also depend on the pricing strategy, however, the advertisers also look at viewership trends. But there is a separate weekday and a weekend rate and it depends on how the viewership turns out to be.
According to Datta, if these slots do well for the channel, then it will bring a good volume.
The loyal viewers of these drama shows will want to be hooked on to the show and not miss out on the story and since these are appointment viewing shows, the strategy might work for Star, Datta said.
Datta further continued that this strategy to have a continuous show has been explored in the past by other channels like reality shows like ‘Bigg Boss’, but what remains to be seen is how fiction shows will fare.
Monteiro concluded by saying that the strategy might make an impact on other channels if the viewership moves towards Star. Moreover, as this step has been previously too by Star they must be prepared and have a strategy in place.