Suraj Ramnath

Will the The Kapil Sharma Show lose viewers to IPL?

The first six weeks of The Kapil Sharma Show will clash with the IPL tournament.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) goes on air from April 9, 2016, on Sony Max, Sony Six, and Sony ESPN. The Kapil Sharma Show (TKSS), Sony TV's new weekend comedy show, goes on air from April 23. The launch episode of TKSS which starts at 9 pm, will clash with the Sunrisers Hyderabad versus Kings XI Punjab match, which starts at 8 pm.

Will the The Kapil Sharma Show lose viewers to IPL?
And, it is not just the launch episode that is going to clash with the IPL matches, but subsequent episodes of TKSS for the following six straight weekends right up to May 29, will air alongside the IPL matches.
Will the The Kapil Sharma Show lose viewers to IPL?
Will the The Kapil Sharma Show lose viewers to IPL?
At the campaign launch, when asked about the timing clash of the two Sony properties and the possible viewership hurdle for TKSS, N P Singh, chief executive officer, Sony Pictures Networks India, said, "We have a fairly large universe of viewership in India and they are diverse. There is a very loyal viewership of the IPL undoubtedly, and it continues to grow each year. But, we have seen other genres doing well for their share of entertainment on different properties and different shows as well. With TKSS, we will be able to get a very strong GEC viewership even when the IPL is on, and the good part is that both of them are on our network."

But, is it as easy as it reads? Apprehensive about losing viewership, Colors channel has decided to postpone its new show, keeping in mind the possible loss of viewership it could have due to the IPL. Raj Nayak, chief executive officer, Colors, in an interview to afaqs, says, "We've extended our show Naagin by a few episodes, as we don't want our new fiction show replacing it and start during the IPL."

Sony's Strategy: Good or Bad?

Himanka Das, senior vice-president - West, Carat India, says, "During this time of the year, the IPL tournament continues to be one of the highest-reach platforms in the broadcast space. Being from the home network, SET will leverage the tournament strategically to promote the launch of its new channel driver programme TKSS."

Giving the example of Hotstar, Das says, "In the last season, the IPL was hosted on Hotstar as well, with the strategic intent to promote the platform during the tournament, leading to the popularity of the Hotstar App. And, the rest is history. Kapil Sharma has his own fan following, and has created his own niche in the comedy space."

According to Das, the IPL and TKSS should co-exist. "Ninety five per cent of India is still single-TV households. Having said that, there is ample evidence based on Neuro Science experiments, which tell us how human minds (viewers) work. It doesn't operate in a way where one will not watch a comedy show during the IPL or vice versa. They will co-exist," says Das.

"Moreover, if you look at the trend of the IPL, it will pick up only after the initial League matches are over, by when you are clear about the position of the teams based on their performance in the League matches. It is from here that viewership starts picking up," he adds.

Will the The Kapil Sharma Show lose viewers to IPL?
Will the The Kapil Sharma Show lose viewers to IPL?
When asked about Colors' decision to postpone its new show citing the IPL as a possible threat, Das reasons that even if the channel launches a programme on an IPL weekend, it will be hard for it to reach out to audiences as it cannot advertise on IPL (Sony network).

Talking about the challenge that Sony will face, Das says, "Viewers are used to seeing Kapil Sharma on Colors' Comedy Nights with Kapil. Now that Sharma will host his programme on a different channel, fast build-up of awareness for tune-in on SET is required and in order to meet the objective, the IPL has the ability to deliver."

According to Dinesh Rathore, chief operating officer, Madison Media Omega, it is not a bad strategy on the part of the channel. "There is lot of good content going around everywhere so you can't wait for a virgin period. Something or the other is happening, and today, there is a lot of fragmentation in terms of viewership. I don't think it is a bad strategy. Whenever it believes that it is right and has the slot, it's fine," he says.

Adding further on Colors' decision to postpone its new show due to the IPL, Rathore says, "A lot of people do that because they don't want to clash with the IPL as it does polarise viewership which is a given fact over eight seasons. It is, therefore, a call taken by the channel. I won't say it is a very brave call, but it is fine."

According to Rathore, it is in the first and last weeks of the IPL tournament when viewership reaches its peak. "But, somewhere in the middle, it stabilises. Sony's decision to launch TKSS on April 23 is after nearly two weeks of the commencement of the IPL tournament. Hence, it is not a bad strategy."

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