The modern avatar of Mahabharat might have been on air for just 12 days, but STAR Plus already seems to have won the battle.
STAR India's flagship general entertainment channel has seen a significant leap in television viewership in thousands (TVT) for the week ended September 21. During that period, the channel's gross viewership in thousands (GVT) rose to 534,590 from 477,029 in the previous week. While nearly all shows on the channel saw a rise in TVTs, the most significant gain was in the 8.30 pm weekday slot, in which STAR Plus launched the Mahabharat.
The epic saga premiered on the channel on September 16, replacing Ek Hazaron Mein. Mahabharat was launched with a TVT of 8,445; its launch-week average was 6,356 TVT, a huge jump from the TVT of 2,965 recorded by the previous show in the same slot. Mahabharat recorded TVT of 849 among females in the 15-24 age group and 574 for males in the same age group.
By comparison, Bigg Boss 7 on Colors recorded TVT of 7,711 during the launch episode, while the average TVT for the launch week was 5,080. Also, the show did not lead to as big a jump in the channel's ratings as Mahabharat did for STAR Plus. Colors' GVT rose to 479,892 in the week ended September 21 from 463,869 in the previous week, according to TAM data sourced from a general entertainment channel (CS4+, Hindi speaking market, unless mentioned otherwise).
The second-highest gainer was Zee, the GVT for which rose from 3,98,993 in the week ended September 14 to 413,707 in the week ended September 21.
Media observers say both Mahabharat and Bigg Boss 7 have been well received. "I believe television viewership in the country is increasing. This is seen from the increase in ratings for STAR and Zee, as almost all shows have gained numbers. People are finding it better to watch TV rather than go out and spend. Bigg Boss has seen a trend of picking up a couple of weeks into the season. On the other hand, Mahabharat has been appreciated by the audiences and it reflects in the numbers," said a media planner, on condition of anonymity.
For Mahabharat, STAR Plus had gone all out in its marketing endeavours. Now, it seems its efforts have paid off. From innovative outdoor hoardings across cities to extensive print campaigns, the channel left no stone unturned in the traditional media. On the on-ground and digital fronts, too, STAR Plus designed initiatives to not only engage, but also intrigue audiences through innovations such as 3D museums and glasstron devices (special glasses would give patrons an on-the-go audio-visual experience of the Mahabharat sets and promos).
According to channel sources and media planners, the feedback from consumers, too, was positive.
Gaurav Banerjee, executive vice-president (content strategy), STAR India, says, "The effort was to make the Mahabharat contemporary and I feel this has been the main reason behind the reception the show has received."