Kevin Vaz, Head – Network Entertainment Channels, Disney Star, attributes the 150-week leadership of Star Plus in the seven-day programming Hindi General Entertainment Category (GEC) to the channel's ability to connect with viewers through its storytelling, particularly in Hindi-speaking markets.
In an exclusive conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, Vaz said that viewers have welcomed seven-day programming, with Sunday viewing becoming a natural part of their routine. Moreover, he added that Star Plus' content choices are dictated by viewers, and the channel is always open to newer content formats as and when it sees a strong consumer insight for such content.
“This is truly a momentous juncture for the team. In the past, there was a long period when the top channel in the Hindi GEC category would change weekly. This feat of 150 weeks of leadership is all thanks to our viewers’ love and loyalty. Viewers are our North star and our content strategy is built on strong consumer insights which help us understand their viewing patterns, content preferences and more,” Vaz said.
“Our stories’ strong resonance across the Hindi-speaking markets is what has helped fuel this incredible journey. As a channel, we focus on making our stories realistic and believable, while providing aspiration through our characters. This has resulted in us creating strong popular characters who have forged a deep connection with the viewers daily,” he added.
Vaz stated that while their mainstay as a brand has always been to bring forth stories of strong women overcoming hurdles, the protagonist’s situation has constantly evolved with time.
“Today we portray very strong women characters on the channel which include Sai, who will never give up on her quest to become a doctor; Faltu who dreams of playing in national cricket stadiums; Anupama who dares to start a dance Academy in her older years and more. These aspirations may not have resonated with viewers 15 years ago, but today is a different world and they certainly connect with our viewers today. Star Plus excels at balancing between inspirational and relatable elements within content, making the viewer feel that she too could someday tread the same path,” he added.
“Our focus remains to offer high-quality content that viewers can enjoy daily. Commercial success is a by-product of that. The top eight shows out of 10 belong to Star Plus in the category. Our number one show Anupama has been the top show in the category for 120 weeks now,” Vaz said.
Linear TV’s future is bright
Despite the rise of OTT platforms, Vaz said that he sees a very bright future for linear TV. Television continues to be the preferred medium of entertainment for 900 million people across India making it the only medium with such unmatched reach, he said.
Furthermore, he added that TV’s biggest strength has always been its ability to deliver quality content to homes, bringing friends and families together.
“Through Star Plus, we strive to tell stories that inspire women and families at large. Content continues to be the king and as long as we keep offering stories that resonate with viewers, they will continue to tune in,” Vaz added.
Apart from the weekly BARC ratings, there are several indicators of how a show is faring. When a show becomes an integral part of pop culture, the way Anupama has, you know that it has transcended the physical boundaries of the TV screen, Vaz said.
“The dialogue that went viral a few months ago of “Mein Ghumo, Phiro, Nacho” was one such perfect example – where Bollywood stars and international celebrities alike recognise and celebrate a show that has made a place in every household. Reports such as Ormax’s ‘Characters India Loves’ also provide some sense of where a character stacks up in the mind of consumers – with Star Plus regularly having four characters in the top-five most loved,” he added.
The seven-day programming
Vaz said that Star Plus’ 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 have seven-day programming,” he stated.
The result is a lot more stickiness to primetime, with Sunday’s primetime ratings doubling, Vaz added.
On a concluding note, Vaz added, “Our content choices are dictated by viewers, and we are always open to newer content formats. As and when we see a strong consumer insight for such content, we will certainly work towards including it in our content line-up.”