With the Hindi GEC space getting fiercely aggressive every day, channels keep adopting new strategies to increase their shares of the ever fragmenting viewership pie.
Recently, Zee TV decided to advance its weekday original programming to 6 pm from Monday to Friday, while Sony launched a new weekly show with original content to feed its Saturday 8 pm slot, with an aim to tap into the male and youth audience segment.
Star One, the second GEC from the STAR stable, is extending its prime time programming to Saturdays from November 27 onwards so as to give a boost to its viewership and fill the gap of fiction based shows over the weekends. Star One will push all of its prime time shows from five days a week (Monday-Friday) to six days a week (Monday-Saturday), with the line up as follows: Yeh Ishq Haaye (8 pm), Pyaar Kii Ye Ek Kahaani (8.30 pm), Dhoondh Legi Manzil Humein (9 pm), Geet (9.30 pm) and Odhani (10 pm).
So why did Star One choose to take such a step?
"Also, since audiences are generally hooked onto their favourite shows during weekdays, this move will help us aggregate eyeballs during weekends. Viewers could sample the channel and its shows and then choose to stay back on it if they like it. This could, therefore, translate into loyal viewers on weekdays," he adds.
With the extension, Star One will run 15 hours of original programming (five shows) from 8 pm to 10:30 pm. However, eventually, that will be pushed up to 18 hours of original content as the channel plans to launch a new fiction show in the 10:30 pm band soon.
"We have launched three new fiction shows in less than a month. Once these shows settle, we will bring in a new show for the 10:30 pm band," adds Mirchandani.
So is the strategy good enough to help the channel gain viewership?
According to Manas Mishra, executive vice-president and country head, Mudra Connext, the move is definitely good and different as "it is trying to put eggs in different baskets instead of just one".
He says, "Consumers do not put on a different hat on a Saturday or a Sunday. Rather, they have more time on hand to watch better content. Right now, weekends cater to specific genres - reality and movies. There are not many fictions on weekends. Therefore, the strategy could actually work for it and in fact, could keep the small town people hooked onto the channel."
Satyajit Sen, chief executive officer, ZenithOptimedia believes that if a particular programme appeals to the audience, "it really does not matter what format the show belongs to".
"Traditionally, channels have placed long format content such as reality and movies on weekends because audiences have more time at hand. However, that does not mean that other forms of content will not work. It's just that the content has to be appealing enough. Also, weekends are good to take into the audiences as it is a less competitive situation," he says.
STAR One will launch a marketing campaign announcing the extension of its programming line up next week, playing along the core thought: 'Aap Shaniwaar ko kya kar rahe hai?'
"While 80 per cent of the promotions will be across the STAR Network, we will use radio and out of home to promote the move off-air", says Mirchandani.