In days when the skies had not opened up most top shows of Doordarshan used to air between 9pm-10 pm. In 2013: when 250 channels vie for eyeballs, the prime time band which was earlier from 9pm to 11pm and a TRP-tripping slot, has now shifted to evening hours beginning as early as 6.30 pm.Saath Nibhaana Saathiya, Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, Madhubala - Ek Ishq Ek Junoon, Sasural Simar Ka, Housewife Hai...Sab Jaanti Hai, Sapne Suhaane Ladakpan Ke, Amrit Manthan
et al are the eyeball grabbers. Two of telly's most ambitious shows Dil Ki Nazar Se Khoobsurat
have just been launched at the 7.30 pm band. Why is the prime time band shifting to early evening?
Producer Siddharth Kumar Tewary says, "Early prime-time started as an experiment initially and the 7pm-9 pm time band is as important as 9pm-11pm. Now the 7pm-9pm is slotted for fresh shows while earlier repeat shows used to be telecast during this time slot. It's a competitive scenario and you have to think the dynamics involving family viewership pattern. Due to changing work schedule, these days male members of a family don't reach home before 8pm - 8.30pm, and hence homemakers get time to watch television in the early evening hours."
Producer Sudhir Sharma says, "The new prime-time band has a broader base from 7pm to 10:30pm. Research has shown that homemakers who constitute the majority of viewers between the 6pm-8pm band spend more time in front of the television during this time than the usual prime-time. So advertisers are ready to shell out same money for the ads too (what they spent on prime-time)."
And what do GEC professionals think as they are putting extra efforts to make the content strong? "For us the prime time slot is technically between 8-10pm and post this slot, the TRP drops. But, with the base of viewership between 6pm to 8pm increasing, things are changing now. Many small town viewers prefer early evening hours on small screen too. So, the point is it is not shifting but it is expanding prime time band for GECs," says Ajit Thakur, fiction head of a renowned GEC. Only time will tell what makes a show click.