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Generally speaking

Hindi general entertainment channels are getting more gender-neutral, upping the ante on content and innovations. The emphasis on women viewers is coming down, Anita Sharan reports.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2011 01:02 IST
Anita Sharan

Game show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), will now show on regional channels Mahuaa TV in Bhojpuri and Mahuaa Bangla. The shows, Ke Bani Crorepati and Ke Hobey Banglar Kotipoti are being anchored by actor Shatrughan Sinha and cricketer Sourav Ganguly respectively.

As TV content expands with varied fare on general entertainment channels (GECs) to attract more members of the family, what works on Hindi GECs is bound to extend to the expanding number of regional language channels. An adaptation of the US TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire, KBC, has found appeal with entire families.

Going forward, Hindi GECs will set the trends in TV entertainment. TAM Media Research data for 2010 shows that Hindi GECs gained viewership by 2.7% over 2009, while regional GECs saw a decline of 1.3%.

TAM Media CEO, LV Krishnan, said: “The viewership growth is a result of the effort Hindi GECs made by introducing content for different family members in different day parts, and in marketing and promotion. The GECs had become more female-oriented in their programming. Now they are getting back to addressing the whole family.”

He said that with the growing digitisation of TV, thanks to direct-to-home (DTH), GECs would increasingly look at appealing across the family, as viewers would have to pay for what they view.

“In the US, the largest pay TV market, the primary choice is of channels that can be viewed by everyone in the family, followed by specialist channels for kids, wives, the elderly and the husbands, in that order. India too will see this pattern as DTH gains ground. The top four networks are definitely looking at digital closely.”

The GECs themselves, though, are not all willing to say that they have been more women-oriented in the recent past, but they do swear by entertainment for the whole family now.

“Content for the entire family has always been the ethos of our programming. Women form an important target group but it’s also about giving importance to other family members. We ensure that quality content and variety in different genres are part of our line-up. We are not changing focus, but moving with the times. Research indicates that more youth and men are watching television (read GECs) nowadays,” said Akash Chawla, Zee TV’s marketing head.

Star India CEO, Sanjay Gupta, added: “In the past two-and-a-half years, Hindi GECs have grown significantly. When Colors, NDTV Imagine and 9X came in around the same time, there was huge flux. Everybody upped the ante, resulting in the number of hours of original content rising sharply. Competition has resulted in greater emphasis on quality and width of stories. Programming has moved from being unidimensional to multi-dimensional, appealing across a wider cross-section of society.”

Punitha Arumugam, CEO, Madison Media Group, said that the content on GECs has become more gender-neutral now.

“The content of reality shows focused on families, for example, has gone up as a percentage, often occupying half an hour or an hour of prime time. From one reality show a year, there’s a new one every quarter. By default, that makes GECs less women-specific,” she said.

She added that SAB TV has always been male-skewed and Colors has also been more male-oriented, though it did come up with the women-oriented Balika Vadhu. "Besides, Bollywood content, which we are seeing more of on Hindi GECs, is not women-specific."http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/060611/06_06_11-buss-23b.jpg

Star’s Gupta concurred: “Earlier, all GEC non-fictions were song and dance shows. Now, there is a lot of variety. We have Aap Ki Kachehri, Sach Ka Saamna and Master Chef. Sony revived KBC strongly, and Colors has Khatron Ke Khiladi — Fear Factor and Bigg Boss. Then there are Bollywood movies on Hindi GECs. We show one big new title every month, which gets good eyeballs.”

TAM found that viewership shares across all target groups increased in 2010.

Towns with populations above one million saw the highest increase in time spent, while among metros, only Hyderabad saw a drop.

As GECs work to widen their appeal, channels may also be correcting their target balance. Sony plans to increase content focus on women. Sneha Rajani, EVP and business head – MAX, Sony Entertainment Television Network, explained, “Sony has always been a family channel. We plan to focus more on women as we want to be among the top three Hindi GECs by the end of the year. Right now, we are more male-skewed. Once you get the woman in, more of the family will watch the channel.”

To make her point, Rajani pointed to MAX’s ongoing show Bade Acche Lagte Hain, which she said was watched by men and women because it covered issues that touched both, though it was tilted more towards women. “Reality shows may get you reach, but the numbers are in soaps,” Rajani quipped. Sony, however, does not intend to dilute its male-focused content, but to strengthen its women-oriented programming.

It’s more about balancing content for now. Till the DTH promise takes off, Gupta said.

In three years, the efforts at content broad-basing will shift from GEC channels to broadcast networks, with each trying to offer a bouquet of everything TV-viewing families and individuals would be willing to pay for.

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