In-depth: How GECs' push for week-long fiction programming is fairing spoke to the leaders from media agencies and Hindi GECs to know how this switch impacts advertisers, viewership of the channels, network's revenue, and more

Sakshi Sharma
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In-depth: How GECs' push for week-long fiction programming is fairing

In recent times, Hindi General Entertainment Channels (GECs) have started airing their popular prime-time fiction shows six or seven days a week instead of the traditional five days. This shift has been driven by a number of factors, including revenue maximisation, competition and changing viewer habits.

Last year, Star Plus and Zee TV decided to extend the fiction programming to seven days a week with an aim to fill the weekend prime time slot with tried and tested shows

The most recent channel to switch to seven-day programming of its fiction shows is Dangal TV which announced the extension of its original fiction programming from six to seven days a week on the core prime time band of 7 pm to 9 pm.

Uday Mohan

Uday Mohan, President and Chief Client Officer - Havas Media Group India, said that shifting to a seven-day programming of fiction shows, is clearly based on the changing audience behaviours, especially after the onset of OTTs and the resultant binge-watching habits that the audiences have developed.

While speaking to, leaders from Hindi GECs said that the switch is working wonders for both channels and advertisers in terms of viewership and higher GRPs (Gross Rating Point) at a weekly level, respectively.

On the other hand, media agency experts had mixed views on how this programming format is actually turning out for advertisers. Some believe that it helps the advertisers meet their GRP requirements in a dynamic environment and gives them more choices in terms of time slots, while others believe that this revised programming by channels has not had any major impact on advertisers’ interests in GECs.

Impact of  7-day programming on advertisers' interests in GECs

It helps advertisers meet their GRP requirements

Ramsai Panchapakesan

Giving a media agency's perspective, Ramsai Panchapakesan, Senior Vice-President and National Head, Integrated Media Buying at Zenith, said, "Shift of seven-day programming is a great help to the advertisers to meet their GRP requirements in this dynamic environment. This gives a 17% higher inventory opportunity for the advertiser to meet their Share of Voice (SOV) requirements in reducing trend in overall TV GRPs in some selective target segments.”

Gives advertisers more choices of time slots and inventory

According to Mohan, the change to the seven-day fiction shows has definitely given the advertisers more choices in terms of time slots and it should be of interest to them.

“It made sense to keep the audiences’ interest alive and not let it die over the weekend. Traditionally, weekends have been dominated by reality shows but the falling ratings coupled with comparatively higher rates was making this an unattractive option for the advertisers” he added.

As per TAM report, ad volume on TV has grown over the years. It has increased by 21% and 26% in 2022 both compared to 2018 and 2019, respectively. And the maximum pie is from GEC which overtook news in 2022 with 28% share, due to high demand of GEC inventory and limited commercial time.

Havas Media Group’s Mohan said, “ As we move from five days to seven days programming, advertisers will get sufficient inventory and better bandwidth.”

Shift to 7-day fiction programming is not a differentiator

Simanta Mahanta

On the other hand, as per Simanta Mahanta, Senior Vice-President, Investment and Partnerships, Initiative (India), which is a part of IPG Mediabrands, the extension of fiction shows to seven days a week by certain channels has not had any major impact on advertisers’ interests in GECs.

“On these channels, fiction shows were extended to seven days which otherwise would have carried either reality shows or repeat content and this doesn’t impact the campaign-building approaches,” Mahanta added.

Helps advertisers plan seamlessly with no breaks in-between

As per Zenith’s Panchapakesan, it allows advertisers to plan seamlessly with no breaks in-between, increase in original content hours certainly helps in accumulating quality viewership and for the broadcasters it will help them to retain audiences at reduced cost compared to non-fiction production cost.

"For advertisers, weekend audiences at similar operating benchmarks as non-fiction operates on a la-carte pricing," he added.

Advertisers can afford to spread their campaigns across the entire week

According to Havas Media Group’s Mohan, earlier since the weekend slots were primarily dominated by reality shows, which typically had high entry costs, there were advertisers who with limited budgets would avoid the weekends. But now with the seven-day fiction shows in place in some channels, they can afford to spread their campaigns across the entire week. This has also resulted in better ROIs for the advertisers.

As per Initiative's Mahanta, in the five-day fiction format, channels used to either run repeat content or reality shows and original fiction shows in place of either of the two can be beneficial for both broadcasters as well as advertisers.

More original content will lead to more viewership (compared to repeat content) and hence help advertisers/brands in quicker awareness building. In the case of reality shows, pricing is always higher than fiction, so fiction in place of reality will come as an efficient option on the same channel, he added.

GECs find sustained merit in expanding fiction shows programming for 7 days

Top sources associated with the channels that extended fiction shows programming up to 7-day a week, stated that this programming format worked out really well for them as some of the fiction shows, which were extended to all seven days, are still being aired during the entire week.

Even Dangal TV said that it took this decision after most of its prime time shows were consistently leading in their respective time bands, and extending these to seven days a week would further strengthen its overall channel performance.

Following the development, citing BARC data, Dangal TV also stated that it has seen immense growth on Sunday prime time band with 61% increase in reach.

"Knowing the pulse of the consumer, seven-day programming is a small step towards breaking established norms and providing consumers top notch entertainment daily. Viewers will now have the opportunity to watch their iconic characters and shows all through the week," Dangal spokesperson added.

"Shows like 'Mann Sundar' garnered more eyeballs than reality shows or impact properties. Original programming on Sunday is equivalent to higher eyeballs and thereby prime time reach," Dangal TV's spokesperson said.

“In this case, it is a win-win situation for both broadcasters as well as advertisers as they get more audience. Dangal strives to deliver any new offering that appeals to viewer’s interest. This directly impacts the viewership increasing the revenue," the spokesperson added.

Impact on production and scheduling of fiction and reality shows

As per the spokesperson, pre-planned episodic banking has resulted in smooth functioning of production and scheduling. Due to this, there is no compromise on screen space of the iconic characters or unnecessary focus on secondary tracks.

initiative Reality shows ZeeTV Uday Mohan Show format Ramsai Panchapakesan Zenith IPG Mediabrands Hindi GEC Simanta Mahanta Havas Media Group Dangal TV fiction shows Star Plus 7-day programming GEC