Mediaah!: How underdog Colors won the great GEC battle

22 Jul,2013

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

Having tracked the journey of both Television 18 and Viacom from their early days (in India in the case of Viacom), there was much desire to see both groups succeed.

 

But I thought they were being too ambitious to launch a Hindi GEC in 2008. The market was already very crowded and with the whizkids of broadcasting Peter Mukerjea and Sameer Nair also in the fray, the sentiment then was that it was going to be well-nigh impossible for any new channel to be a success.

 

I was sure the Network 18 team wouldn’t get it right. They had had success with CNN-IBN but entertainment wasn’t like news. Good content doesn’t necessarily maketh a GEC.

 

The idea of getting Ashvini Yardi (who had earned her stars as programming head at Zee) was a great one. But could CEO Rajesh Kamat and she be able to match the maharathis and former Star India CEOs Peter and Sameer?

 

I think what changed my outlook to the channel’s launch was the news that Akshay Kumar was signed to do a Fear Factor. The folks meant business and Akshay was then the reigning king of Bollywood. Plus the team was young, friendlier (than the others) and indulged us in the media.

 

A week before the launch, most of us had wanted Colors to succeed. Even advertisers and media agencies longed for a worthy alternative to the existing slew of channels. And after the ratings for the first two weeks came in, we were sure the channel was a winner.

 

Even then there were naysayers telling us that the magic would fade away. Regrettably for them, it didn’t. Soon Colors dethroned Star Plus as the numero uno Hindi GEC.

 

I remember writing then that it was complacency that had seen Star Plus go down, a comment that didn’t work very well with some people internally and of course the biggies in the business. But a year-odd later, when I spoke to Star India CEO Uday Shankar, he admitted that the channel getting complacent. I asked him just to let people know that my earlier statement was based on some digging in, and not speculation.

 

**

 

My first major interaction with Rajesh Kamat happened only when I had this interview on the first anniversary of the channel in Impact magazine. It was an extra-long 6000-word interview. Rajesh had then told me how it helped being an underdog. “It made us focus on our own efforts. Also what happens is when you’ re an underdog, you push yourself to give 200%.” He mentioned how he learnt several tricks of the trade from Sameer Nair, and knowing that the former Star India CEO would’ve tracked the rise and rise of the channels, we invited him to do an appraisal for this fifth anniv package.  The Impact interview isn’t on the Net, but I found a Word version on my Gmail archives. Inbox me if you want a copy.

 

***

 

In many ways, the launch of Colors also marks a little over five years I have spent in the M&E media. I can’t claim the same kind of success that the channel has achieved, but, yes, the ability and desire to try and do stuff that has not been done before is there.

 

Here’s to many, many more colourful years for Raj Nayak and Team Colors (and the folks at Network/TV 18, Viacom and Viacom 18)!

 

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One response to “Mediaah!: How underdog Colors won the great GEC battle”

  1. Shiv Kumar says:

    How come no inside goss on the mass firings at TV18?