Real, the general entertainment channel born out of a joint venture between India’s Alva Brothers Entertainment and global entertainment major Turner Broadcasting, is off to a rather poor ratings start. According to data from audience measurement firm TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd, Real managed just 9 GRPs for its launch week of 1-7 March. In comparison, Colors, the Viacom-TV18 channel that has burned up the charts, had launched in July with 81 GRPs, riding high on the Indian version of Fear Factor starring Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar. Real’s programming line up, which includes Sarkaar Ki Duniya and Poker Face, doesn’t seem to have clicked with the audience. 9X had launched with a 21 GRPs and NDTV Imagine, with 55. A GRP, or a gross rating point, is a function of both reach and time spent by viewers.
We asked Sunil Lulla, CEO of Real Global Broadcasting Pvt. Ltd, the equal stakes JV between Turner Broadcasting and Alva Brothers Entertainment that broadcasts Real, how he saw the first week rating. “I wouldn’t read too much into first week ratings. We are not here to substitute anybody and we have no ambition to catapult the channel overnight into something. We have a very distinct and differentiated offering and it will take time to grow on the viewers. I’m confident that we can make it work as a business,” he said. I asked him if he could honestly say he wasn’t disappointed with the numbers. “I have always been honest and i’m not disappointed. We will build on our position. For what it’s worth, if you look at the SEC AB data for men and women, we have had a great opening,” he said.
Bulk of India’s approximately Rs7,000 crore ad budget for television, goes to Hindi GECs, which enjoys the largest viewership share as a genre after regional entertainment channels. This genre saw an explosion of interest from foreign financial and strategic investors over the past few years. While Viacom (NYSE: VIA) invested in Colors, NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) bought a stake in NDTV Imagine and a clutch of private equity investors, including Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, invested in 9X. While the others have settled towards the bottom half of the ratings chart, Colors is in a neck and neck race with Star Plus, the flagship channel from News Corp (NYSE: NWS). subsidiary Star India Pvt Ltd. In fact, Colors was just one GRP below Star Plus during the week of 22-28 Feb. But this week it slipped, and the gap is now 20 GRPs. In the intense Thursday-to-Thursday TRP race of the broadcasting business, Star Plus has retained the top slot for yet another week.