Amitabh Bachchan's charisma fails to fetch enough eyeballs for the TV serial Yudh.
Touted to be the costliest serial on Indian television at Rs 3 crore an episode, Sony Entertainment Television (SET)’s Yudh is yet to make the impact the company was expecting.
The show, which marks Bollywood heavyweight Amitabh Bachchan’s acting debut on the small screen, opened to viewership of 1.5 million.
The show launched on Multi Screen Media (MSM)’s flagship general entertainment channel, SET, on July 14.
The hour-long show will be on air from Monday to Thursday (at 10.30 pm) for a total of five weeks.
Co-produced by Endemol India and Saraswati Productions (which produced the hit sitcom Dekh Bhai Dekh in the early 1990s). Yudh replaced Balaji’s Bade Acche Lagte Hain, which at one time was the highest rated GEC show on television.
The show, unlike most other GEC fiction shows, is a finite property with a total of 20 hours of content.
The makers have not ruled out a second season, depending on the performance of the first installment. Last year, Viacom18’s GEC Colors experimented with finite content in the form of 24, the Indian adaptation of the American thriller series by the same name. The show’s premier episode had viewership of 3.4 million. Ultimately, the season plateaued at viewership of 2.2 to 2.5 million.
In the case of Yudh, the average viewership of the first four episodes is 1.19 million.
Rohit Gupta, president, MSM, says, “Yes, it’s been a weaker start than anticipated. But we are confident the show will pick up. It’s just the first four episodes. It’s too early to see a trend.”
Media planners are not so sure.
“The show is edgy and a little dark for consumption in the LC1 markets. It has an urbane feel and the execution is a little too niche for the mass viewership. Let's just say it’s not everyone's cup of tea. But the show might bounce back. Hopefully, it will,” says a media planner involved, on the condition of anonymity.
The ratings of the show, however, are not likely to impact the commercial prospects of Yudh.
Gupta informs that the channel has pre-sold 90 to 95 per cent of the advertising inventory on the show. The advertisement rates on the show, at Rs 3 lakh for a 10-second spot, are practically double the normal rates of Rs 1.5 lakh for 10 seconds on top-rated daily shows on general entertainment channels. Besides charging premium spot rates for advertising, MSM has roped in a bevy of sponsors as well -- primary sponsorship revenues alone come to more than Rs 12-14 crore. These include presenting sponsor Cadbury’s (at Rs 6-7 crore) and ‘powered-by’ sponsor OLX (Rs 6-7 crore), apart from associate sponsors Maruti, Ruchi Soya and Dabur (Rs 4-5 crore each).
Yudh is part of SET’s strategy to re-engineer it’s programming and get eyeballs back on the channel.
For the past couple of years, Sony has been facing drop in viewership resulting in the channel slipping from a consistent number two in 2012 to number four or five, at times even six, in the GEC ratings chart.
For the week under review (week 29 ’14; July 13 to July 19), the channel lost 8.9 gross viewership in million to end at number five on the GEC ratings table.
Star Plus continued to rule the charts with gross viewership of 711 GVM, while Zee TV maintained second spot at 436 GVM. The shows also did not see any major movement in position with Star Plus’ Diya Aur Bati Hum retaining the top spot at 10.49 million viewership, followed by Mahabharat at 9.4 million on the same channel.