Making the most of nostalgia, how GECs are regaining ground during lockdown

The COVID-19 crisis and the resultant nation-wide lockdown has disrupted the content consumption patterns. News has surged ahead of all genres, even as Movies and Kids genres are also seeing great traction. With content production work at a standstill due to the lockdown, there is dearth of fresh content on GECs, which had seen a drop in viewership in the initial days of the lockdown. However, re-telecast of old classics have resulted in a viewership surge that was unexpected. Such has been the growth surge that airing of old series such as ‘Ramayan’, ‘Mahabharat’, ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’, ‘Shaktimaan’, etc., has propelled DD National to the numero uno spot among Hindi GECs.

As per the 5th edition of the BARC-Nielsen report on ‘COVID-19 – TV + Smartphone Consumption During Crisis’, total TV consumption in Week 15 recorded a 40 per cent growth over the pre-COVID-19 period at 1.24 trillion minutes. Individuals watching TV for all 7 days have increased to 48 per cent.

Hindi GECs in HSM are at an all-time high, garnering 8.5 billion impressions in Week 15, with HSM Urban registering all-time high viewership for 3 weeks in a row with 4.5 billion impressions in Week 15.

Mythological shows have become the main source of entertainment among Hindi GECs, with such shows garnering 109 billion viewing minutes and watched by 353 million viewers in Week 15. Such has been their draw that mythological shows like ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’ are attracting more advertisers, seeing an increase of 14x and 12x, respectively, in their advertiser count.

Numbers are huge, opportunity is massive

Prathyusha Agarwal, Chief Consumer Officer, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd
Prathyusha Agarwal, Chief Consumer Officer, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd

Commenting on this surge, Prathyusha Agarwal, Chief Consumer Officer, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, said, “ZEE has emerged as the biggest movie network in India, 200 bps ahead of its nearest competitor and has witnessed a 9 per cent increase in weekly reach and a 38 per cent increase in viewership across the category (HSM U+R 2+)”. She further added, “With its strong portfolio of movie channels, ZEE is geared up to be the go-to-destination that caters to the needs of the consumers with its 4,800+ strong movie library across languages.”

Manisha Sharma, Chief Content Officer, Hindi Mass Entertainment, Viacom18
Manisha Sharma, Chief Content Officer, Hindi Mass Entertainment, Viacom18

Manisha Sharma, Chief Content Officer, Hindi Mass Entertainment, Viacom18, noted, “Due to the nationwide lockdown, the television landscape is changing quite significantly. We are constantly and very closely evaluating the viewership trends and designing our programming accordingly. With no fresh daily or weekly shows being put on air due to limitations, viewers are looking at alternate options for entertainment and thus, non-prime time bands have gained momentum. Male viewership has seen a spike and they are driving the growth vis-à-vis female viewers. As people are staying indoors and spending time with the families, movies have become a major entertainment avenue for the viewers and there is substantial consumption in the afternoon band. We have prepared a content strategy which is an eclectic mix of varied genres ranging from the traditional offering of the best in class drama shows in the prime time to mythology, comedy, reality, fantasy and a daily dose of movies for our viewers to consume during the non-prime time hours.”

The road ahead

While the traction and viewership is great, its true potential can really be justified with a great content strategy. With all eyes glued to TV, if the right content is provided in the right time slots, this surge can definitely be leveraged to facilitate further growth.

Talking about their content strategy, Arpit Machhar, Head of Marketing, Enterr10 Television Network, said, “Currently, we have an extensive content library and are well positioned even during this lockdown situation. In terms of trends, Mythological and historical shows along with some well-produced thrillers and family dramas make it an interesting package for viewers in times when audiences are confined to their homes. We are airing ‘Ramayana’ as well and mythological shows like ‘Devi Adi Parashakti’ and ‘Mahima Shani Dev Ki’ for a while now. In the past, shows like ‘Bandini’, ‘Chandragupt Maurya’, ‘Bhagwaan Shree Krishna’ have done exceptionally well on Dangal TV and we have slotted these iconic shows back again for the viewing pleasure of the audience. ‘Devi Adi Parashakti’ and ‘Mahima Shani Dev Ki’ were among the top two shows across Hindi GEC, HSM  (U+R) as per data provided by BARC India for Week 11. We are aware that such content always has an audience and therefore we will continue to keep our viewers engaged with such shows.”

Giving a perspective of the Viacom18 Network, Sharma said, “The morning slot has a mix of action and comic reality with the reruns of the most popular seasons of ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ and the laughter riot ‘Khatra Khatra Khatra’ between 10 am and 1 pm. A great mix of family entertainment from our impressive library is being aired in the afternoon band. The early primetime slot is dedicated to mythology daily between 4 pm and 6 pm with ‘Mahakali’ and ‘Ram Siya Ke Luv Kush’. We are bringing back our cult show ‘Balika Vadhu’ at 6 pm, followed by ‘Jai Shri Krishna’ at 8 pm. The prime time line-up features the 5 top shows, including ‘Choti Sarrdaarni’, ‘Shakti... Astitva Ke Ehsaas Kii’, ‘Barrister Babu’ and ‘Vidya’. Each of these shows will air in one-hour slots giving the viewers a maximum dose of their most favourite programmes. For weekends, we have in store the best of ‘Comedy Nights With Kapil’, ‘Naagin’, and reruns of the most recent episodes of ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’. In an industry first, we have launched a new show, ‘Hum Tum aur Quarantine’, featuring Bharti Singh and Harsh Limbachiya, wherein through fun gags, the couple will share their experiences at the time of self-isolation and how they are dealing with it.”

Talking about Zee and pointing out what is working for them, Agarwal said, “Zee Cinema is uplifting the spirits of the viewers through a special movie line up comprising of youthful and edgy content like ‘Ujda Chaman’, ‘Saaho’, ‘Panipat’, ‘Hacked’ and more and showcasing family entertainers like ‘Good Newwz’ and ‘Commando’. On the other hand, Zee Classic is bringing the golden era alive by broadcasting popular old Bollywood classics. Our regional channels, including Zee Thirai, Zee Cinemalu and Zee Bangla have also lined up a robust pool of films to captivate our audiences across the country. For our Hollywood movie buffs, we are launching Hollywood Blockbuster every night from 9 pm to 11 pm on &flix, which has a line-up of action packed-movies, including ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’, ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ and ‘Bad Boys for Life’, etc., to keep our younger audience engaged.”

She further informed, “Our channels continue to perform well, as we customise the best of content across our GECs to ensure our viewers remain positively engaged and entertained. Taking into consideration the explosion in TV consumption and the surge in daytime viewership being witnessed, Zee TV has extended its on-demand nostalgia band from 2 pm to 6 pm, featuring the most loved shows like ‘Jamai Raja’, ‘Choti Bahu’, ‘Pavitra Rishta’, ‘Jodha Akbar’ and ‘Zindagi ki Mehek’, among others.” Agarwal had also pointed out that they are leveraging their comedy shows like ‘Happu Ki Ultan Paltan’ and ‘Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hai’ to provide some light hearted content to viewers in such anxious and testing times.

Shows that India under lockdown is watching

The lockdown time is seeing people favouring all genres of content spanning comedy, fantasy, drama, mythology, and reality in both prime time and non-primetime hours, along with movies. While drama shows are doing well across channels, mythology and comedy are proving to be audience favourites. With no fresh content being produced, many shows are making a comeback across GECs. Doordarshan started the trend of bringing back on air their legacy shows, such as ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’, as well as shows like Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘Circus’ from his early days in acting, detective serial ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’, kids’ fantasy show ‘Shaktimaan’ and more. This nostalgia card is being leveraged by other channels as well.

Talking about Enterr10 Television Network, Arpit Machhar said, “We are getting back the evergreen mythology shows like ‘Chandragupt Maurya’, ‘Sai Baba’ and ‘Mahima Shanidev Ki’, family drama like ‘Baba Aiso Var Dhundo’, ‘Bandini’ and ‘Rakt Sambhav’ and fictional show ‘Naagin’.”

Giving a list of old shows on Zee, Agarwal said, “Zee TV has extended its on-demand nostalgia band from 2 pm to 6 pm, featuring the most loved shows like ‘Jamai Raja’, ‘Choti Bahu’, ‘Pavitra Rishta’, ‘Jodha Akbar’ and ‘Zindagi ki Mehek’, among others.”


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