The Hindi general entertainment genre has been having a tough time finding the correct offering on the 8 pm band since the launch of Colors. The channel's flagship property, Balika Vadhu, has maintained a strong foothold on the time slot right from its launch.
Mahadev has reached out to about 38 million viewers in July 2012, while in August 2012, it reached 48 million viewers. Marketers predict that this performance will grow further.
Balika Vadhu was launched in 2008, along with the launch of Hindi GEC Colors by Viacom 18. Since then, the show has created buzz in the fiction programming genre. One of the market experts, on condition of anonymity, says, "This was the first TV show that weaved the social issues of the country into a family-based typical soap-like storyline. That's why it has gripped the audience till date."
Vidhu Sagar, executive vice-president, Carat Media India, says, "Balika Vadhu started with a social issue base and has continued to inculcate the same in the plot of the show. Moving on from one social problem to another, the show has travelled a longer distance and has even shown leap of time, while it's all the same."
Mahadev was launched during the revamp of the channel from Star One to Life OK in December 2011, with an opening TVR of 2.0. Later in that week, the ratings fell and the average TVR after the first week of launch was 0.9.
On the 8 pm slot in the past five weeks (Week 31-35), Balika Vadhu on Colors has garnered an average of 4.4 TVRs (reaching out to 8.9 million people), while Iss Pyar Ko Kya Naam Doon garnered an average of 2.7 TVRs (with a reach of 6.6 million) for Star Plus. This show too has been gaining good numbers, as per marketers but they quickly reason that Star Plus has always been a good performer with its daily fiction soaps.
The biggest gainer of the slot, Devon Ka Dev Mahadev, garnered 2.7 TVRs (with 5.3 million reach), against Zee TV's newly launched Rab Se Sona Ishq that clocked 1.4 TVRs (with 4.5 million reach). While SAB TV's Golmaal Hai Bhai Sab Golmaal Hai gathered 0.7 average TVRs (with a reach of 2.9 million), Sony's Byah Hamari Bahu Ka has achieved 0.4 TVRs with 2.4 million reach.
Calling it a clear case of good programming with a basic storyline, the market experts too feel that it is a mystery for a long time as to why there is no stronger competition in the 8 pm slot, while Mahadev has clearly carved its way to the top.
The 'Shiva' theme
Om Namah Shivay is the only instance of a Shiva story being told on television, before Mahadev on Life OK. Om Namah Shivay was telecast on Doordarshan in 1997. As per the marketers, the show did fairly well on television in terms of numbers and popularity.
While the marketers unanimously spoke about the content value and production value of the show, Devon Ka Dev Mahadev, Sagar of Carat Media India says that the popularity of Shiva as a mythological character is also gearing up these days.
"The theme of Shiva is in the air. This is majorly due to the trilogy of Amish Tripathi and the channel is reaping the benefits. Also, Shiva is a part of mythology which hasn't been done to death, unlike Mahabharat and Ramayana. Each Indian hears these stories since childhood, but a detailed version of Shiva is not so common," he adds.
Marketers also cite the examples of Chandragupta Maurya, Chhatrapati Shivaji and Chanakya, which did fairly well on television due to this less-talked-about factor. Also, they add that though these are more historical than mythological, they are still in the genre of costume dramas.
Mystery of time band
While there is a lot of appreciation for Mahadev, there seems to be no plausible explanation for the time band facing a struggle all this while. Balika Vadhu had ruled the slot for quite some time, while Star Plus' Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon has been the first show to give it a little run for the viewers.
Amol Mohandas, vice-president, Allied Media, says, "Life OK has taken the wise step of tapping the peripheral prime time slot for the mythological series. It must be noted that gradually, the prime time is being pushed to the later hours. In this scenario, working on the initial time-band has definitely helped the channel and the show."
Marketers predict that the monopoly of the time band could be broken now. One of the important reasons quoted by the media experts is the show's fresh content. All other channels have been lately working on soap formats for this time band.
Jadav of MEC also feels that the show must have brought new viewers to the time band.
Cost cutting spree
Experts believe that the market is going through tribulations and broadcasters are on a cost cutting agenda. Evidently, channels need stronger content to fight a strong fiction show such as Balika Vadhu and now, Mahadev. This can be provided by a reality or non-fiction show with associated high production costs, which is not a desirable option for broadcasters right now.
It is interesting to observe that a rather niche channel, SAB TV, is also in the fight for the same time band, though marketers call it a co-incidence since the offering is quite different. Sagar of Carat feels that SAB TV is one of the smartest of the lot. In each area there is a need-gap. The channel fills a need-gap in the Hindi general entertainment genre and is monetising it quite well, too.
What other channels should do to break the monopoly and be back in the reckoning remains unanswered. For now, with finances being a crucial determining factor, it is a complete wait and watch game.