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What's the fate of afternoon GEC programming?

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | October 13, 2017
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After Star pulled the plug on afternoon programming recently, is there hope for the slot? The verdict is mixed.

At a recent launch event of a Colors show, we asked Raj Nayak, COO, Viacom18, if he has seen any bold moves in the general entertainment space recently and he replied saying "Star's move to do afternoon shows was a bold move in the space."

Well, the bold move did not last for long; Star India, which started airing four original shows between 12:30-2:30 PM in April, pulled them all off-air on September 30, 2017. The four shows Star Plus launched afternoon programming with were: a sequel to 'Diya Aur Baati Hum','Tu Sooraj mein Saanjh, Piyaji' produced by Shashi-Sumeet productions, an adaptation of a Turkish show 'Fatmagul', 'Kya Kasoor Hai Amla Ka?' produced by Purnendu Shekhar, Nandita Mehra and Bhairavi Raichura (24 Frames). 'Ek Aastha Aisi Bhee' by Ved Raj and Dheeraj Sarna and 'Dhhai Kilo Prem', from the creative mind of Sandiip Sikcand which will be produced by him in collaboration with Balaji TeleFilms.

The broadcaster was spending as much as it spends for its prime time shows and launched a high decibel marketing campaign to promote the initiative, but it could not get enough eyeballs to match the evening programming. If we recall, Shaanti (Doordarshan), Kumkum (Star Plus) used to be the chartbusters of their time. So, why did this bold initiative from Star only last a few months? Does that mean it's all over for afternoon programming; or is there an opportunity for at least one more try?

We spoke to our experts to find answers to all of these questions and before we see what they had to say let's see what Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC India) says:

Here is a comparison between Star Plus' afternoon show versus Prime Time shows:

BARC Ratings of Star Plus' afternoon and primetime

Here is what our experts had to say:

Navin Khemka, managing partner, Maxus India

Very few GEC channels had original programming in the afternoon space. I think the reason is more economical as the cost of production would be similar for a Prime Time Original and an Afternoon Original, but the yield would be much lower for the afternoon. With repeats of prime shows also doing decent ratings I think channels are trying to economise on the programming cost and managing their yield.

Navin Khemka Navin Khemka

Dinesh Rathod Dinesh Rathod

Sumeet Mittal Sumeet Mittal

Dheeraj Rana Dheeraj Rana

I think the repeat of good performing prime shows will dominate this slot now. Most FMCG brands are looking for efficient audiences and this will help them garner those. With the cost of production remaining the same/ similar it is the yield on prime time that skews it in their favour.

Dinesh Rathod, COO, Madison Media Omega

We do not have enough evidence to say if the afternoon programming initiative of Star didn't work. In the afternoon time band, there are several repeats of popular prime time shows which people who miss them in the evening watch for them the repeat is a fresh show. I don't see any reason why afternoon programming won't work in India. Brands want eyeballs and all they are worried about is if the content is garnering them; it can be at any time slot.

Sumeet Mittal, founder, Shashi-Sumeet Productions (producer of one of the afternoon shows aired on Star Plus)

The television and GEC space are largely going through a lull. It would be unfair to rule out afternoon programming just on the basis of this pull off-air from Star. Afternoon programming is like the add-on for a channel while prime time is primary. The Prime Time shows are struggling to match the expected level at this stage. I think going forward there can be various experiments in the afternoon slot and there is no reason why it should not work.

Dheeraj Rana, Producer, Ek Aastha Aisi Bhee (one of the afternoon shows):

All the shows you saw in the afternoon slot were pitched and approved as prime time shows. The money spent was as much as the prime time shows; Star did not differentiate the two in any manner. It clearly did not work to the level they wanted it to and that's why the shows are all off-air today and there is no afternoon programming. It might have worked if we gave it more time is what I think, but we need to understand it's the channel which was spending all the money and they must have had their own strategy.

I don't see any other broadcaster trying out afternoon programming, at least in the near future. In India, it seems like if Star tries something first and they succeed, then others follow suit. Since Star had to pull the shows I don't think we will see others trying.

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