At a time when the life span of TV shows is shortening rapidly across channels, the afternoon entertainment shows that focus on soaps and serials seem to be faring well with viewers.
Saas Bahu Aur Saazish (SBS) on STAR News has managed to complete seven years of existence. In fact, early this year, STAR News also decided to increase the time length of the show, from half an hour (2.30-3 pm) to one hour.
Also, while STAR News was evidently focusing its energies on SBS right from the initial days to fight competition during the afternoon hours, other news channels, too, hopped into making afternoon shows on soaps and serials, including Aaj Tak's Saas Bahu Aur Betiyan (which was a direct competition to SBS) during the slot. Others, too, emerged to give competition, such as U, Me Aur TV (aired at 1.30 pm on E24) and Serial Jaisa Koi Nahi (at 1.30 pm on IBN7).
However, SBS continues to garner the highest viewership in the given genre when compared to the existing competition. Take for instance the 1.30-3.30 pm slot, the time during which all such shows are telecast. STAR News leads the slot with 18 per cent market share. Within this slot, during 1.30-2.30 pm, when SBS is not telecast, India TV leads the slot with 15.5 per cent share, followed by Aaj Tak with 14 per cent share. STAR News, meanwhile, exhibits 12 per cent share.
However, from 2.30-3.30 pm, STAR News leads the slot with 22.6 per cent share, followed by Aaj Tak at 14 per cent (October 2011, TAM C&S 15+, HSM) and India TV at 13.5 per cent.
So, what has helped the show fare well within the given genre?
Prabhakar, head, CMS Media, notes that while the 2.30-3.30 pm time band is not a very engaging slot during the day, as it primarily shows repeats of properties across various channels, the entertainment dosage during the news primetime has also reduced significantly.
Therefore, during such a slot, viewers, especially female viewers, are free to watch television but without much choice. They choose to watch formats that help them understand their favourite characters better.
"And, over the years, Saas Bahu Aur Saazish has increased interactivity through character feedbacks, with more and more engaging information, which has helped the show sustain its viewers successfully," says Prabhakar.
For the record, SBS was the first show to bring in the entertainment format genre on serials in news. Many speculate that the step was primarily taken to promote the Saas Bahu serials on Star Plus, which ruled the roost during their early days.
But, will the show and, eventually, the format, continue to sustain viewership?
Also, since such shows bring in easy GRPs to the channel and do not include any cost, the channels will also continue to show such content, opine many.
Such content could be an easy bet to drive advertising sales, too. When it comes to news channels, buying happens on the basis of an 'average of the day', wherein the buying currency could be applicable anytime during the day.
Therefore, with heightened GRPs in their pockets (which could come not from real news but such entertainment shows), channels quote higher prices from the market. Therefore, with such shows getting good TRPs, advertisers often ask the broadcasters to play their spot during the running of such properties. For example, according to market experts, SBS contributes 7-10 per cent of the overall sales revenue of Rs 140-160 crore earned by the channel.
Neeraj Sanan, executive vice-president and head, marketing and distribution, MCCS (STAR News, STAR Ananda and STAR Majha), says, "While the general advertisers continue to advertise during the segment, a lot of female-skewed brand categories such as sarees and jewellery also buy spots during the show."
Meanwhile, according to TAM AdEx, the top categories that advertise during such shows include cars/jeeps, publications/books, cellular phone services, hosiery, cement, social advertisements, cellular phones, life insurance, matrimonial portals, educational institutions, corporate/brand image, perfumes/deodorants, soft drink/aerated drinks, paints, DTH service providers, toothpastes, fairness creams, air conditioners, banking services and products, and automotive batteries.