Why general entertainment channels (GECs) is the way to go for broadcasters


Television has for long been the primary source of entertainment for people in India for decades now. However, with the changing times, new platforms for entertainment have emerged on social media. Considering the pace at which these platforms are gaining traction, clearly, the demand for good entertainment couldn’t have been better. This disruption has also forced content creators on TV to rethink their strategy and offer more wholesome formats of entertainment to different viewers.  No wonder, general entertainment channels (GECs) now dominate the scenario, surpassing the movie broadcaster’s share of the revenue. Today, major GECs have more than one channel so they can offer more variety to people, and they are doing reasonably well. The reasons for their burgeoning success can be attributed to the following factors…

  • Digitalisation

One primary reason for broadcasters to launch multiple GECs is digitisation. In 2008-2009, analogue bandwidth was restricted, and the distributors had the advantage and the power to decide on the channels being shown. Broadcasters had to pay hefty carriage fees to get their channels through. However, with digitisation came direct-to-home (DTH) broadcast that cut down the carriage to 15-20% and made it more affordable to launch channels.

  • Market expansion

Television viewership is fast increasing and in that the GEC pie is the largest with 30% of the viewers watching Hindi GECs. This has driven some of the flagships channels to launch second channels, and in fact, the latter is doing much better. As per DDB Mudra, an ad agency, between 2011 and 2013, Star Plus viewership increased by 11% while its second channel Life OK saw a 21% hike. Thus, with a large captive audience, there is always space for more quality content.

  • Fragmentation of channels

The latest trend of TV channels world over is to offer one genre of shows on one channel and then launch a second channel for another kind of genre. This strategy has worked in their favour. The objective is to target different audiences with varied genres. There is Star Plus that predominantly shows family dramas while Life Ok shows more of crime-related programs.

  • Habitual viewing pattern

The habitual viewing pattern of viewers has also made the GEC segment of television more popular. From the romantic sagas, family dramas, to comedy shows, and others, the viewers form an emotional bond with the programs. This makes them come back to these shows while the same is not true with movies. In fact, movie broadcast channels like Sony, Star India, Zee Entertainment had to rethink their strategy of buying new film rights due to poor ratings of some of the blockbusters on television.

Given the aforementioned facts, general entertainment channels are clearly the way forward for broadcasters to ensure more viewership. Social media will be a close second given the limitations that it still is not a liberated mass media platform.