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Colors chases profitability

In just a couple of weeks from now, Colors will host the costliest show on television at an investment of Rs 140-150 crore. That’s not a surprise as the general entertainment channel has been raising the budget for Bigg Boss every year. But this year’s edition will still be different as the channel is actually hoping to break even on the three-month-long show, which has so far been a loss-making property.

Colors CEO Raj Nayak doesn’t want to comment on financials, but agrees that his sales team has been more aggressive in marketing Bigg Boss this year. If Bigg Boss indeed manages to break even, it would be in tune with Nayak’s repeated assertions in the media that he doesn’t chase only a spot on the TAM ratings chart where Colors is at number three. For him, profitability is much more important.

While the channel has chased profitability successfully since the third year of its existence, there is good news from the ratings chart as well where Viacom18’s flagship GEC is now firmly perched at number three.

The youngest of the big four GECs, the channel has no doubt found its forte in reality and non-fiction programming over the years with a mix of talent based shows and other formats like Khatron Ke Khiladi apart from Bigg Boss . From May every year, the channel releases a slew of weekend programmes starting with Khatron Ke Khiladi (Indian adaption of Fear Factor) leading into Jhalak Dikhlaja (Indian adaptation of Dancing With The Stars) and finally hitting a high note with Bigg Boss .

The channel has aced the comedy genre as well with the hit show Comedy Nights With Kapil. The weekend talk-cum-stand-up comedy show has managed to grab eyeballs over the last year though its ratings have dropped over time as some amount of fatigue has set in. The weekend slot has been bolstered by Bollywood veteran Anupam Kher’s talk show, Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai. With this, the channel boasts of the maximum original programming over the weekends, ahead of competitors Star Plus, Sony Entertainment Television and Zee TV.

But many analysts say a third spot doesn’t do justice to the kind of investments and marketing Colors makes for its tent-pole properties. They say if Colors is finding it difficult to break into the top two, it’s because of the lack of an impactful daily fiction programming. None of the channel’s daily shows feature in the top five list, which seems to be hitting the channel’s overall daily prime time rating.

“While having a Bigg Boss on air gives Colors a fighting chance to break into the top two, one must remember that the other daily shows also need to make an impact. It will also depend on what the competition does when Bigg Boss is on air. But yes, having the reality show on air, will help spike the daily prime time ratings,” says Karthik Lakshminarayan, Chief Operating Officer, Madison Media Infinity.

Many experts take the example of Star India’s second GEC brand, Life OK, to show why Colors should rethink its strategy. The channel did face the heat from Life OK, which went ahead of it on multiple occasions in May-June. However, over the past few weeks, Colors has managed to grab that slot back.

A planner, who preferred to remain unnamed, believes that the channel should learn from the scare it got from Life OK. “The strongest attribute of Colors has been its bold innovative content. When it launched, that is what set it apart. Ironically, the channel is still doing what it did when it launched six years back. I think it is time Colors explores new niches and works towards occupying them. There has to be some new thinking when channels like Star Plus and Zee TV and even Sony are looking at revamps,” he states.

On his part, Nayak said at the launch of the Anupam Kher show that he looks at re-engineering the channel at every possible turn. As a result, the channel now has a distinct weekend line-up and will also be looking at introducing new daily fiction shows. It launched Meri Aashiqui Tumse Hai and Shashtri Sisters in the past quarter and will be launching another couple of shows as well before the end of the year.

The channel also experimented with finite content last year with the launch of the Indian adaptation of 24, the American thriller show featuring Keifer Sutherland in the lead role. The show’s rights in India lie with actor Anil Kapoor who plays the lead in the Indian version. The show met with a mixed response in terms of viewership with the metros lapping it up well, but the LC1 markets gave it a thumbs down.

The show will be coming for its second season in 2015. Nayak maintains that he sees potential in the franchise and is ready to wait it out. “Even in the US, the show took a couple of seasons to build traction. We stand by our commitment to bring it to the audiences for the second season,” he said.

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