The business of 'self awards'

By Raushni Bhagia , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | February 03, 2014
Hindi GECs have taken to self awards in a big way. Besides promoting their shows and characters, these properties serve several other purposes. afaqs! explores.

Who is the most popular bahu of Indian television, till date? Tulsi from Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Bani from Kasamh Se, Archana from Pavitra Rishta or Anandi from Balika Vadhu? Well, interestingly, the answer depends on which TV channel is hosting the awards show.

Sab Ke Anokhe Awards

Sab Ke Anokhe Awards

Star Parivaar Awards

Star Parivaar Awards

Star Parivaar Awards

Zee Rishtey Awards

Zee Rishtey Awards

Golden Petals Award

Golden Petals Award

Golden Petals Award

While Anas Rashid (Sooraj in Diya Aur Baati Hum) and Hina Khan (Akshara in Yeh Rihsta Kya Kehlata Hai) are the favourite pati and patni of the Star Parivar Awards (a decade old event), Zee Rishtey Awards has found its own favourites in Rajat Tokas (Akbar in Jodha Akbar) and Surbhi Jyoti (Zoya in Qubool Hai). Likewise, Colors named Siddharth Shukla (Shiv in Balika Vadhu) and Toral Rasputra (Anandi in Balika Vadhu) the most 'lokpriya' or loved faces at its recently held Golden Petals Award. Evidently, GECs have taken to in-house awards in a big way.

One may argue this trend stems from a dearth of acclaimed industry awards; two popular names are Indian Television Academy Awards (popularly known as the Academy awards) and Indian Telly Awards, both of which are 13 years old. The film industry has Filmfare, Stardust, Star Guild, Screen, Big Star Entertainment, IIFA and Zee Cine; the advertising fraternity has the Abby Awards (Goafest), Effies, Emvies and Olive Crown. Even so, the ad industry has two self awards - Lowe Lintas' True Show and more recently, Ogilvy's Envies.

Hindi GECs telecast several film and music awards (for example Mirchi Music Awards and GIMA). Some channels have even created unique and innovative award formats, for example Sony's CID Veerta Awards, that recognise bravery in the layman, and SAB TV's Sab Ke Satrangi Parivaar Awards, that celebrate the combined professional achievements of families. But this article looks at the business of self awards on part of Hindi GECs, in which the channels felicitate their own shows and actors.

Beyond Motivation

Turns out, besides being a good way to motivate actors and programmers, these self awards are also good for business. Here's how: The main awards event offers the channel in question at least three hours of exclusive content. Additionally, as in the case of Star Parivaar Awards, there's the option of creating half hour long episodes comprising content about the nominations and behind-the-scenes (pre-awards preparations) material. And generally, the main event is aired on TV thrice. Ad-rates for the shows are in line with those of any movie premier on a Hindi GEC, that is, close to Rs 90,000 to one lakh per ten seconds.

Moreover, all these shows are sponsored - typically, one title sponsor and at least four to six associate sponsors. Star Parivaar Awards has had Pantene as its title sponsor, while Zee Rishtey Awards has had Dabur and Vaseline for different editions. Broadcasters agree that award shows yield positive ROIs and these tend to break even in the first edition itself. Ashish Sehgal, chief sales officer, ZEEL, says, "Advertisers fight for these events, as these are one-offs."

From a marketing perspective, these events see an investment of around Rs 7-8 crore each. The revenue, of course, varies from network to network. Rohit Gupta, president, network sales, licensing and telephony, MSM, says, "The range is as wide as Rs 5-15 crore. Sab Ke Anokhe Awards (the most recent self award) makes close to Rs 8-10 crore."

Surprisingly, 16 year old Sony Entertainment Television is not part of the self awards race. Why not? For one, the channel already has Filmfare, a big ticket film awards property. Secondly, the channel is not thrilled about adding yet another self awards show to the existing bunch. "There is only so much appetite from the clients' side," says Gupta, adding, "We started Sab Ke Anokhe Awards because there was no comedy awards show. It is unique and hence easier to monetise."

Healthy Viewership

Interestingly, viewership for these awards shows has been increasing over the years. Sab Ke Anokhe Awards garnered approximately 1500 TVTs in its first edition (2012) and the latest (2013) edition clocked 4648 TVTs. Colors started its Golden Petal Awards series in 2011 and garnered 7392 TVTs, followed by 8501 TVTs in 2012 and 10,000 TVTs in the 2013 edition.

A drop in its 2010 edition notwithstanding, Zee Rishtey Awards too has done well; it started off with 2815 TVTs in 2007 and stands at 8599 TVTs in the 2013 edition. Star Parivaar Awards clocked 7916 TVTs in its debut edition (2003) and got 7267 TVTs in 2013. Star's award show has witnessed a lot of fluctuations across its eleven year journey; its biggest spike came in 2012 with 10069 TVTs.

These award shows not only bring in a unique set of advertisers, but also lure "flirting audiences" as Anooj Kapoor, executive vice-president and business head, SAB TV, terms viewers who are not loyalists of the show/channel in question. This is how it works: Viewers, who normally watch other GECs, gravitate towards a particular channel (say, SAB TV) only to sample the awards show. Through the course of the awards show, they start getting accustomed to the characters, perhaps get a taste of what the channel and its shows stand for (humour and laughter, in this case) and perhaps get "converted" and start watching those shows in the future.

Broadcasters claim these award functions are a celebration of the channel's 'family', namely, the cast and crew. Ajay Bhalwankar, programming head, Zee TV, says, "Zee Rishtey is a celebration of our relationship with the audience. It's not about who acts better, but about who depicted a particular relationship better." In its 2013 edition, the channel also awarded shows on other channels (Star, Colors and Sony) under the newly created category Zee Anmol Ratna Award.

Branding Opportunity

Award shows are a good way for channels to build their own identity and strengthen their brand recall. There's ample opportunity to bombard viewers with elements of branding such as the channel name, tagline, theme colours, show names and characters.

SAB's Kapoor explains, "During Sab Ke Anokhe Awards, we keep reiterating the 'Asli Maza Sab Ke Saath Aata Hai' philosophy, to reinforce in the minds of viewers that it's a brand that stands for family entertainment."

From a branding perspective, media planners agree that in-house award shows are more cost-effective than brand campaigns. Sponsors and advertisers also give these events more importance as the stickiness factor is higher than that for other properties on GECs.

Hindi GECs also telecast movies on weekend evening slots. And it is imperative to note that these movies mostly garner lower ratings than self award shows. A movie is a gamble as there is no concept of 'assured minimum ratings'. There's always a risk because revenue depends entirely on the title. Hrithik Roshan-starrer Agneepath helped ZEEL garner close to Rs 8.5 crore in the first two screenings. Chennai Express gained much more.

With award shows, on the other hand, channel loyalists, certain show loyalists or even character loyalists, will certainly watch the awards. This in turn helps pull in sponsorship.

Also, films get monetised over a period of time, after being aired repeatedly, while awards are monetised in a very specific number of airings, generally three. Also, how's this for trivia? - There isn't much difference in the male-female ratio as far as GEC award viewership goes.

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