This lesser known channel tops GEC viewership charts under new tariff order

India Alert (above) is one of the popular shows on the channel
It may well count among the most meteoric rises in broadcast history. Dangal, owned by a privately held network Enterr10 has become the most viewed GEC,  according to BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council of India), beating heavyweights from the Star and Sony stable to the top. For a channel that was never on the advertisers’ radar, it has suddenly crept into everyone’s media  plans. Its ad rates have shot up nearly four times in the past couple of weeks, a media planner said.

Dangal catapulted to the top in April this year and has held its spot for five weeks in a row. “The sharp rise in viewership can be largely attributed to supply-side changes on DD Freedish that came into effect from March 1, 2019.  While certain channels pulled away from the platform, Dangal continues to be one of the channels offered in the bouquet,” said a BARC India spokesperson.

The consensus is that viewers gravitated towards Dangal because there was no alternative.  “With the onset of the new tariff regime and non-availability of the likes of ZEE Anmol, Sony Pal, Star Utsav and Star Bharat, Dangal TV and Big Magic have managed to increase their viewership 2x/3x respectively (on average) in Hindi GEC rural,” says a report by Edelweiss Securities. 

While this does reflect poorly on the content differentiation between entertainment channels, Dangal will go all out to cash in on its new-found popularity, believe advertising and media experts. “No media person, no client can ignore it for now,” said Sandeep Goyal, founder of Mogae Media.

However some are sceptical. The channel’s rise may be a flash in the pan, they say. It is filling in a gap left by big broadcasters and advertisers would wait before committing their budgets, says a media planner handling the account for a consumer goods multinational. 

ZEEL, Star India, Viacom18 and Sony Pictures Network India had a sizeable presence in the FTA space before the new tariff order. Star had about 20 per cent (Star Utsav and Star Bharat about 10 per cent each) among the top ten channels while ZEEL’s ZEE Anmol had about 13 per cent, followed by Sony Pal at 8.5 per cent and Viacom18’s Colors Rishtey around 8 per cent, in the Hindi GEC space, among the top 10 Hindi GEC channels according to the Edelweiss report.

“Dangal now commands a viewership share of about 21 per cent (versus about 8 per cent previously) and Big Magic about 15 per cent in the Hindi GEC segment. Star Bharat’s viewership share has dropped to about 6 per cent and Sony Pal’s to about 2.5 per cent. ZEE Anmol and Colors Rishtey did not feature in the Top 10 Channels list (Week 14 -17),” the report adds.

Dangal, launched in 2009, is part of the Enterr10 network that belongs to New-Delhi based industrialist Manish Singhal. It carries a mix of old shows and some original fare. Currently, the old shows are from the defunct Imagine TV library (which shut shop in 2012) that was owned by the Turner Broadcasting Network. 

Goyal says, “For now, Dangal TV seems to have gained the most from the churn.” While this may result in advertisers committing a share of their budgets to the channel, it may be a temporary shift is the sceptic’s view.  “There is a value to the Star, Zee, Sony, and Colors brand. That value will be difficult to replace,” says the planner. In his view, Dangal still has to earn its brand spurs to get the revenue meter ticking.

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