Hindi GECs: Update Not Found

08 Jun,2018

 

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

This column is in its sixth year now, and Hindi GECs has been one of the more frequently covered categories here over this period. But over the last two years, it has been progressively harder to find much of interest in that

 

There’s no dearth of activity in the category currently. About 18 shows have lined up for launch in the four weeks post IPL. This has been perhaps the busiest launch period in the category. Star Plus even had a ‘brand refresh’ on the day of the IPL

 

But activity does not mean action. Despite a dozen new shows to choose from already, the most popular thing on Hindi GECs this June will still be the World TV Premiere of Baaghi

 

A fraternity of about 30 seasoned producers (not counting the innumerable ones in the long tail) and an equal number of senior creative minds at channels continue to struggle with ‘what next’. Till 2015-16, an opening of 2-TVR was below-par, and 1.5 was a disaster, unless it was on a second-line GEC. Today, all GECs are effectively second-line and 1.5 is more than a fair result, and anything about 1.0 gets you a ‘we can live with if it grows from here’ reaction.

 

So, the category status update is that there is no update at all. It’s caught in its own web of inertia, and there’s no coming out, it

 

There’s an explanation that’s been doing the rounds in the industry. It’s actually more of an alibi than an explanation. And it’s called “

 

Blame it on digital”, to be more precise. With no understanding and hard data, you can hear people in industry forums, press articles and social media opining about how OTT content has changed how people in India watch TV.

 

One doesn’t need to over-explain that this argument is factually fragile. The numbers on the OTT side (for original content, not catch-up) are too low (and concentrated to specific target groups for now) to impact mass TV meaningfully in any way.

 

TV’s problems are of its own making, and they have been discussed here in the past in great detail (long-tenure shows and lack of differentiation, leading to a dissatisfied viewer mass). Various television categories had various problems plaguing them in the past. Usually, they solve their problems out. I remember how Star Gold changed the rules of the Hindi movie channels category a few years ago by cutting down the ad time and thus addressing the singular pain-point the category was plagued by for years. And sure enough, it worked, and everyone followed suit.

 

The collective inaction of a fairly sizeable fraternity involved with Hindi GECs is intriguing. I suspect the real cause of inaction is not a lack of understanding but a lack of incentive to act. The producers have their house running. Channels need shows, and if everyone’s messed up, the best of the worst will still get their share of content to produce.In the current model, where most producers produce content on commission, to expect them to be the flagbearers of category innovation will be foolhardy. It’s the channels that have to take the lead.

 

I believe they have the ability to do that. What I’m less sure of is the will.

 

 

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