Hindi GECs: Mixing It Up… Finally!

30 Nov,2018

 

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

While all eyes this year have been on the OTT/ digital space, the Hindi GEC category too is silently, but surely, going through a shift this year. One doesn’t need to look much beyond the evolution of the programming mix on the category to understand this.

 

After the launch of eight new shows currently in pre-launch promotional stage, the genre mix of the category, based on 64 primetime shows across the seven Hindi GECs targeting Urban HSM, will look something like the following:

 

The family/ women-centric + romance combination, which has traditionally dominated the category since 2000, controlling at least 65-70% of the programming mix, and peaking at 80%+ at times, now stands at a modest 45%. The ‘alternative’ genres are no longer alternatives, with 55% contribution to the programming mix as a collective. This is the healthiest the Hindi GEC category’s programming mix has looked in a long time.

 

This change, evidently, is a result of the distress the category has faced over the last two-three years. With category share (as a percentage of total TV viewership) dropping consistently, Hindi GECs were left with little choice but to question if conventional family dramas and love stories are the path to sustained viewership. The rise of the alternative has been evident through shows like Naagin, Kaun Banega Crorepati, Comedy Nights With Kapil/ The Kapil Sharma Show and the ilk putting up solid numbers over time, even as conventional family dramas failed to make an impact, barring a select few.

 

This shift makes 2018 the best year for Hindi GECs in recent times. While we are still five weeks of data away from doing an annual analysis, it is safe to say that there has been no further attrition in the category’s share this year. While that’s a good start, a lot more needs to be done. After all, two years of damage needs to be undone.

 

The sinking ship in this mix is still the family drama genre. Most shows that are doing well in this set are pre-2015 launches. Very little that has launched since then has managed to survive more than a few months. More importantly, it is this 36% (amounting to 23 shows out of 64) that brings a perception of mediocrity and lack of innovation to the genre in the viewers’ minds. This year’s launch Kullfi Kumarr Bajewala provided an exception, emerging as a fresh yet relevant show in this mix. But as it moves ahead and enters its second year, it will have to face similar challenges as other family dramas too, those related to viewer fatigue coming from a long-running show.

 

The ‘overdose’ of supernatural, fantasy and horror shows in the category is a popular topic in the media, with Naagin being the flagbearer, albeit not in a flattering way. But if 11 shows (17% of the mix) can deliver more category freshness and entertainment than 23 conventional dramas, why should that be a problem of overdose?

 

I’m glad there would be something to write about in the traditional end-of-the-year Hindi GEC round-up in this column. The last two years have been too inert to write much. This year is better. Can 2019 then be the year when some of the glory, from the pre-2012 days, is won back?

 

 

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