Being a consistent number one on the Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC), Star Plus has had only itself as competition for a long time now. However, the channel refused to get complacent and scaled a new high last week (Week 6 of 2014; February 1 to February 8) by recording the highest ever weekly viewership by a Hindi GEC.
The channel out shone its peer by a huge margin with a viewership of 728.23 million for the week. The channel's market share grew to 27% in the week from an average 22% over the past 6 months.
The monumental spike in viewership came at the back of extending the channel's weekday prime time programming to Saturday as well. It is a known fact that Star Plus' forte lies in its weekday programming which has helped the channel hold on to its numero uno position on the Hindi GEC chart. Weekends however, have been a point of worry traditionally.
Gaurav Bannerjee, general manager, Star Plus expplains, “While it is true that the increase in ratings is a result of extendng the weekday strategy to Saturday, I also believe it is because of the stickiness of our content. Our weekday prime time has 11 shows out of which almost 5 to 6 are in the top ten every week. So our content, which we have worked very hard to suit the contemporary Indian woman across geographies, has found a hook with our audience."
He accepts that there was a need to revamp the weekend content where Star Plus was losing out to competitors like Colors and Sony Entertainment Television. In the past too, the channel has agreed that in order to maintain its strong market share and viewership, it needs to relook its weekend programming since relying on weekday prime time only is not an option.
According to Bannerjee, the trick is to mirror the lifestyle and routine of the audience.
“Typically, most of India has a 6 day week and then on Sunday, they want to relax and have a good time. So we decided to give our viewers more face time with the characters from our weekday shows who are already popular with the viewers and on Sunday, we have a variety of content lined up from Satyamev Jayate to Mad in India to Ishq Kills,” he says.
The Aamir Khan anchored talk show based on social issues which premiered last year will be making a comeback in its second season this March. While Bannerjee refused to divulge details about its time slot and marketing, he agreed that the show forms a crucial part of the channel's Sunday content strategy.
For the 9 pm to 11 pm slot, Star Plus will be launching two shows on Sunday, 16 February. One is a comedy show featuring Sunil Grover (of the Guthi fame from Colors' Comedy Nights with Kapil), actor and presenter Manish Paul and actress Dolly Ahluwalia. The weekly how will air from 9 pm to 10 pm on Sundays and is targetted towards the general masses across age groups.
Ishq Kills will have new stories every week which are inspired by real life crimes of passion. The channel intends to target the metro and Tier 1 audience through this show. Presented by director and producer Vikram Bhatt, the show has a dark and edgy feel to it, which Bannerjee feels will find traction with the urban audiences.
Star Plus has also decided to extend its daily mythological show Mahabharat by 100 episodes. The show was originally sanctioned for 120 episodes, but viewers will now get to see more of the show based on the longest Indian epic.