With the Indian Premier League cricket tourney behind them, general entertainment channels are back in business, with as many as seven leading broadcasters having invested around Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) in launching over 25 new television shows on the small screen.
Channels like STAR Plus, Zee TV, Colors, NDTV Imagine and 9X, among others, hope to generate Rs 250 crore (Rs 2.5 billion) of advertising revenue from these shows over the next three months.
Together, the broadcasters will churn out over 170 hours of fresh TV content in the form of soaps, reality shows, comedy shows and other genres. The average cost per episode of these 25 new shows is pegged at Rs 2.5-3 lakh (Rs 250,000 to Rs 300,000).
Various channels have already roped in sponsors for most of the shows. The broadcasters are now hoping for healthy TV ratings for these in the first couple of weeks, as that will form the basis for negotiating advertising spot rates on the respective channels, say media sources.
Overall, the general entertainment genre generates nearly 45 per cent of the total revenue of about Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion) generated on television annually.
This is significant because there has not been an instance in the recent past where so many TV shows were launched within a week, say industry experts. During IPL-2, which was on air between April 18 and May 24, there was an overall decline in the gross rating points of general entertainment channels, as a majority of cable viewership had shifted to SET Max, host broadcaster for the tournament.
Among the general entertainment channels, Sony Television will launch the highest number of new shows, at six. Some of its new shows like Palampur Express, Bhaskar Bharti, 7:30 Ki Ladies Special and Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega are already on air during the prime-time band of 7 pm to 11 pm.
Star One will launch its new comedy show, Hans Baliye, from next week, when Sony TV will also launch the second season of Dus Ka Dum, a reality game show hosted by film actor Salman Khan.
"We have planned to revamp our programming line-up after the IPL. We are now implementing what we planned and the advertisers' response has been more than encouraging," says a senior programming executive of Sony TV.
Colors channel will soon launch India's Got Talent, on the lines of a popular international format. This show, according to the channel executives, was slated for release in the first four months of 2009. However, due to an overall slowing in ad revenue and then the IPL, the release was pushed to May-end or early June.
Zee TV is looking at reaping the benefits of new shows like Pavitra Rishta, Aap Ki Antara and Little Champs (second season), while Star Plus will launch Khelo Jeeto Jeyo and Aap Ki Kacheri (second season) soon.
Soaps are the flavour of broadcasters this season, says a top executive of a Mumbai-based TV production company. "Broadcasters are looking at bringing back drama on the small screens. Therefore, you see a serial like Chittod Ki Rani at one end of the spectrum, while there is a 7:30 Ki Ladies special on the other hand. Both have strong women protagonists and are full of drama and emotions," says an executive who is involved with the production of one of the new shows.
The subject of matrimony is also being used by the broadcasters, specially in shows like Star Vivah on Star Plus and Rakhi Ka Swayamvar on NDTV Imagine.
Amongst reality shows, the channels will show Dus Ka Dum (Sony TV), Aap Ki Kacheri (Star Plus), Little Champs (Zee TV), and Chote Miyan (Colors), among others.