It’s finally happened. After almost nine years, Star Plus has been toppled from its position as India’s No. 1 channel. The usurper is Colors, a joint venture of Viacom and Network 18, which entered the market in July last year.
The timing was fortuitous: Colors’s launch coincided with the decline of Star Plus’s saas-bahu serials that had played a vital role in ensuring Plus’s supremacy.
The soaps on Colors, starting with their flagship serial, Balika Vadhu, abandoned the affluent urban settings and scheming vamps of the K serials and introduced rural stories revolving around social issues like child marriage and female foeticide. Says Colors CEO Rajesh Kamat, “We have real stories which touch the common man.”
The girl child has emerged as the flavour of the season, and both Star Plus and Zee have come out with their own serials centred around young girls.
But for Star CEO Uday Shankar, this week’s upset is not unexpected. For almost three months now, Star Plus and Colors have been engaged in intense combat, with Colors trying hard to breach the Star fortress. “Colors has shown that it has the appetite to be a tough challenger,” says Shankar. “But we’ve been No. 1 for so long, we won’t rest till we get our old position back.”
Both men, however, agree that there will be no clear leader in the near future and the ratings are likely to see a yo-yo pattern. Lurking around the corner is Zee, which posed a real challenge to Plus in 2007-2008.
The real battle for No. 1 has just begun.