Weekends, notably, Saturdays and Sundays, have traditionally been a time for movies and events on general entertainment channels. A time when the daily soap takes a break and the high-profile film or event takes over. From a programming point of view, this seems to be the best bet considering that the weekend audience is not loyal like the weekday viewer. "On weekdays, viewership on a general entertainment channel is more habitual in nature," points out a senior media analyst. "Viewers give themselves the space to watch the programme of their choice."
The fallout of sticking to a tried and tested formula is that original programming on weekends has taken a back seat with probably the only exception of Sony Entertainment Television's Kya Hadsaa Kya Haqeeqat, a thriller stretching from Friday to Sunday at 8.00 pm and ZEE's Sunday line-up.
If one zeroes in on the three mainline channels, Saturdays in particular seem to be wasted with prime-time dominated by movies on STAR Plus, events on ZEE and a mix of a thriller shows and movies on Sony. Sunil Lulla, executive vice-president, Sony Entertainment Television, however, justifies the movie slot. "Movies are important," he says. "They are large carriers of revenue opportunities owing to their widespread reach. Moreover, you can reach the male member of the family who will sit down with other members to watch a movie."
Analysts remain unconvinced. "I don't think a mainline channel would want to take the risk of experimenting with new programming because irrespective of what it does, Saturdays and Sundays are a damp squib in terms of viewership. On an average, the overall viewership base drops by 15-20 per cent," points a planner with a Top 10 agency. "Mainline channels seem to be continuing with what Doordarshan used to do by telecasting a movie over the weekend."
Lulla, on the other hand, asserts that "core viewership on a Sunday is much lower than on a Saturday". "Sunday viewership is fragmented across various channels," he says. "Sony enjoys an audience share of 16.8 per cent to STAR's 12.4 and ZEE's 4.9 when taking into account the 8.00-11.00 pm time band on Saturdays and Sundays for C&S homes across India minus the south as on the weekend of July 19, 2003."
Kya Hadsaa Kya Haqeeqat has been growing and dominates its slot, he asserts. According to figures produced by the media house, the sixth series in Kya Hadsaa titled Kayaamat enjoyed a 19 per cent audience share between June 20-July 5 among its core target group of women and men in the age group of 25-34 years, SEC ABC. The figure was higher among females in the age group of 15 plus, SEC ABC, at 20.3 per cent.
Nonetheless, with Sony attempting to buck the trend and bringing in some variety in its Saturday offering, one hopes that others would follow suit and move away from the hackneyed programming formulae. © 2003 agencyfaqs!