After soaps and thrillers, Star Plus, NDTV Imagine and Zee TV fall back on time-tested mythological serials.
With viewers rallying behind mythological stories like Ramayana and Mahabharata, broadcasters like Star Plus, NDTV Imagine and Zee TV, among others, are hoping to generate at least Rs 150-200 crore (Rs 1.5 billion to 2 billion) from advertisers in the next one year, accounting for about 10-12 per cent of the total advertising revenue generated between the top six general entertainment channels.
Till recently, only genres like soaps, dramas and thrillers were attracting advertisers and viewers. While NDTV Imagine's prime time show Ramayan is already generating high television rating points (3.3 TVR) for the channel, Star Plus is gearing up with 150 episodes of Mahabharata that will go on air in April. Star Plus already gets high ratings (3 TVR) for Jai Durga Maa (adaptation from Durga Shaptshati) and Sai Baba (4-5 TVR) on an average, say senior Star television executives.
For Zee TV, Ravan in mythology and Aladdin in the fantasy genre are driving the ratings. "It may appear that mythological serials are back but that has always been the case. It's a part of the programming mix of entertainment channels. Aladdin has got us ratings of 4-5 consistently, while Ravan gets us the ratings of 2 but then there is a Saregama and other hit daily soaps as well," explains Ashish Kaul, executive
vice-president, Essel Group.
Other serials like Jai Ganesh and Jai Hanuman are already filling the prime time slots on Star Plus, Zee TV and Sony.
But why has Ramayan become a channel driver show for NDTV Imagine?
"A lot of negative visuals of violence in the media in general may have attracted the viewers to watch Ramayan, a show that is the basis of our culture and
heritage," explains Shailja Kejriwal, creative and programming head of NDTV Imagine.
"Ramayan was launched based on our gut-feel. It has become a big hit because it attracts both youngsters (4-14 years) and the 35-year and above viewers alike," Kejriwal says.
Even Star Plus executives feel that mythological serials are beginning to attract both viewers and advertisers. Says Keertan Adyanthaya, general manager and executive vice-president of Star Plus: "We feel that the story of the Mahabharata can now be narrated in a better manner with the latest technology and filming techniques.
"The story did very well 20 years ago on Doordarshan. I am confident that our version will do the same magic for