Shailesh Kapoor: Hindi GECs’ Latest Itch: 4% Rating

14 Aug,2015

By Shailesh Kapoor


The ratings provider may have changed, but the definition of the central programme performance measure remains the same. Called TVR % (TAM) earlier, and Rating % (BARC) now, it is a time-weighted measure of the % of universe that watched a programme, effectively connoting the “viewership” of the program.


In primitive days of measurement, TVR % of 25-30 was not uncommon, delivered by blockbuster films such as Hum Aapke Hain Koun. Through the decade of 2000, the best of daily fiction on Star Plus scored in the 13-20 range, led by the K triplet of Kyunkii, Kahaani and Kasautii.


With time, touching 10% became harder, as more channels meant higher fragmentation. An odd film premiere like Main Hoon Naa or 3 Idiots would get close, but even at its most masterfully manipulated high point, a fiction show (I speak of Hindi here, down South is a different story), would hit a glass ceiling at 7-8 TVR.


Over the last two years, the benchmark continues to reduce. No Hindi programme has crossed an average weekly rating of 4% over the last two weeks. For a huge film premiere, 7% is an excellent result, perhaps an equivalent of 10% not too long ago. Even big-ticket cricket doesn’t rate like old times anymore.


In my opinion, GECs have not spent enough time understanding this area over the last five years or so. Yes, there are more channels and the consumer has more to choose from. Much of the trend till 2011-12 could be explained on account of this fragmentation. Digitisation further fuelled fragmentation, acting as a level-playing field for smaller channels, which would lose out in the analogue environment because of poor placement.


But instead of looking at it as a trend, what if we just asked the question: Is it so impossibly difficult to create a programme (daily, weekly, whatever) that only 4% of Hindi-speaking India watches?


For every show that goes on-air, at least five, often more, are considered. That means that there are more than 150 daily fiction shows alone that enter a stage of serious consideration in Hindi GECs every year, not to speak of the weekend options.


A diverse set of producers, some of them channel employees in the past, churn out these concepts. The writer pool that is engaged to work on them is not too diverse though. It’s the same set of writers that freelance for multiple producers, sometimes working on 2-3 running shows, while working on pitches for another couple. The seamless movement of plot points from one show to the other is easy to catch for anyone who follows the category.


It seems, then, that we have caught ourselves in a seemingly vicious circle of the current output becoming the input for future output, and thus, both the current and the future looking remarkably alike. For a consumer, that means “nothing new”.


The Hindi GEC category has been steady at about 1,100 GRPs over the last two years. But no superhero shows have emerged in this period. Admittedly, there is no magic formula to churn out one. But the best bet will be to infuse fresh writing talent into the industry. It’s easier said than done, because a lack of understanding of the daily fiction audiences and its grammar can be genuine roadblocks, as seen in recent examples like Yudh and Everest respectively.


I’m convinced we’ll have a consistent 4+ TVR show sooner than later. I’m curious to see what it will be and how soon it will come our way.


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