It is often amazing how closely T.V. soaps / serials are followed in Indian homes. When I say Indian homes, I am not excluding NRIs. I have witnessed a similar following among Indians within and outside India.
For almost a decade, Star Plus was the leader in all kinds of television ratings. Be it TRP (Television Rating Points) or GRP (Gross Rating Points). Not just the channel, individual shows at Star Plus stole all the limelight with the top 10 shows (as per TRP) mostly coming from the Star Plus stable. Just when it seemed that it was impossible for any other channel to close-in on Star Plus, it started facing tough competition from one channel – and that too a new entrant.
Colors was launched a year back and was seen as ‘just another channel’ that would garner a small share of ratings, advertising revenues etc. But the owners of the channel had something else in mind. They took a balanced approach in terms of the three essential for a channel:
1. Content: It was becoming clear, that the veteran soaps of various channels were either dead or were close to dying. The audience no longer wanted soaps to run for a decade. They were willing to let go serials they thought were going off-track or were just being elongated. The audience had ample things to choose from and so newer and creative content was sought. Colors caught on to this basic theme of newer, original content that was not available anywhere else. Series like ‘Balika Vadhu’ is the perfect example of this and the response was on expected lines. The other things the channel owners did was to have a good programming mix and not just focus on soaps. It had other series like Big Boss, Jai Shri Krishna to bring variety to the content.
2. Distribution: A new channel has to be free-to-air (FTA), atleast in the initial stages of its life. Colors was no different. However, the focus on distribution (in addition to the content) have enabled it to become a Pay channel within 8 months of its launch. From its launch, the channel had made efforts to get itself included in all the DTH (Direct to Home) and MSO (Multi Service Operators) service offerings. The ratings that decrease after a channel becomes a Pay channel from FTA were insignificant in case of Colors – thanks to the rising TRPs and the accessibility of the Channels across various distribution channels. But above all, distribution efforts helped in making the viewers willingly pay for it.
3. Marketing: The channel was confident that if they can make the desired content, the marketing would have been taken care of. Sudden upsurge in viewership away from the top channels / soaps made the media look at the channel from a differently colored glass.
Colors, Star Plus have been in a constant neck-to-neck fight from the start of this year to emerge as the top channel of the country. Who will win will depend on how the channels manage the above three aspects. What Colors needs to focus on more is the same theme it has employed till now – ‘Content is King’. There are a few slots that are weak in its offering such as the number of reality shows, the afternoon programmes etc. The channel is aware of these and are working on it as can be seen from the launch of the talent based reality show, ‘India’s got Talent’.
In any case, it is celebrating the successful one year of its launch – and deservedly so. It would be intersting to watch how this space shapes out – whether Colors would be able to better its performance? or will Star Plus bounce back? or will channels like NDTV Imagine catch-up? or some new entrant would pose a challenge similar to what Colors has done for the last year?