Shailesh Kapoor: Same Day. Same Slot. Three Launches. It Happens Only In India!

22 Aug,2014

By Shailesh Kapoor


It has been an action-packed week for Hindi GECs. Three shows launched in the same slot on the same day, earlier this week. Monday, August 18, 2014 saw the action unfolding at 8.30pm, with the simultaneous launch of KBC on Sony, Nisha Aur Uske Cousins on Star Plus and Udaan on Colors. Zee TV had launched a new show in the same slot (Jamai Raja) two weeks ago.


We have had instances of a channel launching upto six new shows on the same day. But three big channels launching new properties on the same day in the same slot has to be a first in the nearly 25 years history of Hindi GECs. In a category where new launches have increasingly struggled to open well, this has to be counted as a very odd happening.


The equivalent of this would be three big movies releasing on the same Friday. Or three cola brands launching a new campaign in the same week. Can you remember either of that happening ever? Probably not. Which brings me to the point of this piece: Are we an under-coordinated industry?


Anyone who knows the way information flows in the Indian television industry would tell you that it needs no spy work to find out launch dates of new shows. The information is available everywhere, at the junior-most levels in channels and production houses. In any case, coming-soon promos for these shows have been running for weeks. That would be enough time to find things out.


Yet, when I see channels taking each other head-on, it indicates a certain insular approach towards the business environment. As it is, getting sampling on new shows is a tough task. If three new launches happen at the same time the same night, all are bound to feel the pinch, though some more than others. Building from a low base of viewership is possible, but lower the base, the more challenging is the build-up task.


There’s a lot of FPC planning that’s going on in GECs all the time. But it’s taking a more tactical form in recent years. Launching head-on against another well-promoted show is a strategic blunder, especially when an extra week would not make any discernable difference whatsoever.


But one can imagine why it’s happening. To understand this, let’s look at the probable outcome next Thursday, when the ratings are out. At least two, if not all three, shows may open below expectations, because of the fragmentation of new viewers in a highly unpredictable slot. However, show openings are marketing and communication KRAs, I understand. And that’s a department that’s likely to have the least say in the decision to launch head-on. In the end, all you can do to resolve this anomaly is a corridor discussion that borders on pontification.


52 weeks a year, six channels and at least eight daily fiction slots in a day gives us total of 2,496 possible launch day-slot options. The number of fiction launches in a year are only about 50. What are the chances even two, let alone three, fall on the same day-slot combination? It’s a version of the classical ‘Birthday Problem’ (visit the Wiki to know more). The answer would be very low, less than 1% for two shows and close to 0% for three shows.


Yet, it happened. Only in India!


TV Trails is a weekly column written by Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO of media insights firm Ormax Media. He spent nine years in the television industry before turning entrepreneur. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached at his Twitter handle @shaileshkapoor


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