It's a pity that television wasn't around in India when Meena Kumari received the best actress award from Hollywood hearththrob Gregory Peck in the Filmfare awards of 1954. If it was, there's no doubt that TVRs - the barometer of viewership - would have skyrocketed.
Right from the '50s to the '90s, film award programmes were largely confined to the lucky selected few who could soak in the glamour from close quarters; the junta had to make do with newspaper reports on the next day.
Not anymore. Beaming film award shows have become commonplace now. Matters have reached such a stage that in 2004, there has been as many as six film awards - all telecast live.
As originality has never been a forte of Bollywood (even this name rhymes with original Hollywood!), most of the award ceremonies run in a similar format. Usually, the same stars and starlets perform in every show, and at the end of the evening, the same films get nominated all over again with the same cinestars receiving the awards.
Doesn't it result in a viewers' fatigue?
Apparently, it does not.
The latest TAM figures prove that almost all the film awards have scored well in viewership ratings, with the possible exception of Apsara Film Producers' Guild award, shown at NDTV India. Incidentally, this was the last 'live' film awards show on television; the show got a TVR of 0.42.
One plausible reasoning behind the flop-show could be viewer-boredom, but this explanation isn't correct. Possibly, it had more to do with NDTV--a channel which normally stays away from such award-programmesóairing the programme, than anything else. Perhaps, the channel's viewers were also disappointed since the usual matkas and jhatkas of Bollywood were missing in the show.
According to TAM, STAR Plus holds the sway among channels telecasting film award functions. The Asian Paints STAR Screen Awards on STAR Plus had the maximum viewership with a TVR of 9.19. Following it was another award on STAR Plus - Hero Cycles Stardust Awards, with a TVR of 7.21. Pan Parag ZEE Cine Awards, which managed a TVR of 4.85, took the third spot.
The pioneer of film awards in the country - Filmfare awards on Sony Entertainment Television (SET) could only manage a TVR of 4.38, followed by Samsung IIFA Award on SET with a TVR of 3.74.
Ignore the rank of the awards ceremonies, as per TVR figures, for the moment. There's irrevocable proof that viewership of most film awards is considerably higher than the regular programmes, or rather the popular soaps on different channels.
Deepak Segal, senior vice-president, content and communication, STAR India, says, "Anything related to cricket and Bollywood sells in India, and that's one of the reasons why film awards are a hit among viewers."
But what about viewer fatigue after seeing the same film and the same faces winning the awards show after show?
Hiren Pandit, general manager, MindShare, says, "Viewer fatigue would not happen till the time the events maintain a difference in content and programming." What he means that the audience would have a different reaction to Madhuri Dixit rendering a Kathak recital, to a Yana Gupta doing an 'item' number.
He further adds, "The viewers are more interested in the programmes in between the presentation of the awards, and it's these programmes which drive viewers towards awards ceremonies."
Concurs, Arpita Menon, general manager, Lodestar Media. "In case of film awards, the viewers watch their favourite stars performing live, which breaks the monotony of seeing the stars confined to film characters. There is lot more interactivity between the viewers and the stars," she says.
So, it's not the acceptance speeches by a Hrithik Roshan or a Shah Rukh Khan, it's the jhatkas of Govinda and the allure of Aishwarya that people throng to see.
Now, as far as the individual rankings of the award shows are concerend, it's crystal clear that the channel on which the event is being telecast significantly adds to the viewership.
If one looks at the TAM figures, the top two film awards events in terms viewership has been telecast on STAR Plus. Media planners say, this is because STAR Plus has a higher channel share than other general entertainment channels and thus drives loyal viewers to the channel, irrespective of the event. As Pandit of Mindshare quips, "If Filmfare awards was telecast on STAR Plus, it would also get the maximum viewership."
The TAM research throws up another interesting sidelight. Apparently, men are more tuned in to events like these than their women counterparts. A regular soap, telecast around the same time of an awards night function, would have less men tuning in. However, when it comes to film awards -- take the case of Asian Paints STAR Screen Awards, for instance -- the TVR was an impressive 8.42 among male viewers. Even during the telecast of Hero Cycles Stardust award on STAR Plus, the TVR among male viewers was 6.24. It's a different matter that women still came on top in overall viewership ratings.
Given the fact that female viewership is always more than male viewership for a general entertainment channel, it is interesting that the gap between male and female viewership shortens during the telecast of such events. Explains, Menon of Lodestar Media: "Males are more experimentative with their viewing habits. And they find the de-linked programming format easier to watch, as it does not expect the viewer to follow a storyline."
De-linked programming or otherwise, how many Indian males can ignore the oomph of a Bipasha or a Kareena in an awards night? This is precisely where the secret of high male viewership lies. This is also probably the reason behind the high viewership of repeat telecasts or programmes such as Best of STAR Screen Awards. As per Tam Media Research, the TVR of Best of STAR Screen Awards was as high as 4.07. ¬© 2004 agencyfaqs!