Shailesh Kapoor: Hindi GECs: There’s Space For More… &More

13 Mar,2015

By Shailesh Kapoor


March 2 saw the launch of &TV, the second mainstream GEC from the Zee stable (not counting the highly differentiated Zindagi and the rerun-based Zee Anmol). The first ratings yesterday confirmed that the channel has managed to make its presence felt within its first week. It launched at 42 GRPs, making it one of the best channel launches in the last decade, close on the heels of Colors, Life OK and Imagine.


The ratings universe has widened since 2008. &TV’s 42 GRPs would easily have been 55+ in a pre-LC1 environment, in which other GECs mentioned above launched. Also, the ratings are based on five-and-a-half days of content, which means a natural growth next week is expected anyway. We should see the channel comfortably crossing the 50-mark next week, and with a sizeable reach potential still untapped, it may be looking at the century over the next quarter.


What interested me even more was to see if &TV got its initial numbers from other GECs or if it could grow the category. The top six GECs lost only 21 GRPs this week combined, which &TV got exactly half its viewership by growing the category. Its early days yet, but one could safely assume that in a more stable state, at least 30% of &TV’s ratings would be category growth, which could mean that channel would have managed to grow the already dominant Hindi GEC category by 3-5% by the time it crosses the 100 GRP mark.


Yet, there has been persistent talk around there being no space available for one more Hindi GEC. Every time someone comes up with the idea of launching a new Hindi GEC, promoters or investors treat the thought with immense skepticism.


It’s not a surprising response, however. You won’t expect most investors to be core GEC viewers themselves, and from the outside, it would indeed seem that all the GECs are essentially dishing out similar programming. I have voiced my concerns regarding lack of innovation on the GECs over the last two years, but lack of variety has never been an issue. The consumers see genres and sub-genres in what the non-viewers can just pass off as “daily soaps” or “saas-bahu serials”.


Identifying strategic need gaps in the Hindi GEC space can be a tough ask today. But tapping the right genres and creating new sub-genres within them can indeed push the category viewership ahead. The size of investment may also be a deterrent, but for someone with deep pockets, a well-planned GEC business has a far lower risk than, say, a news or a niche channel today.


The rise-and-fall stories of 9X and Imagine have often been used as an example of how a GEC business is high on risk. But there have been the success stories in Colors and Life OK too, the former a lot more significant than the latter. I hope the early success of &TV encourages more GEC launches. Sound business models can ensure good profitability at even 80-120 GRP levels.


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