New Delhi: It may not be the most heard-of television channel but Dangal TV, among the newest entrants in this market, has emerged as the highest viewed Hindi entertainment channel in the country.
Over the last seven months, the Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC), owned by the Enterr10 Television Network, has left behind established players such as Star, Zee, Sony and Colors, consistently topping viewership tables, according to data with the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).
The BARC data accessed by ThePrint reveals that the channel’s viewership (in thousands) more than doubled this year from 21,33,635 impressions in January to 46,43,297 impressions in October. Dangal TV, however, rose to the top position from March onwards.
Even the monthly average time that a viewer spent on the channel has grown from 47 minutes in January this year to about 62 minutes in October.
The BARC data showed Sony SAB came second in the viewership chart, with 64,566 (in thousands) impression in the latest week.
But more importantly, this is in stark contrast to the overall viewership figures for other such Hindi channels, which have seen a consistent decline between January and October.
The monthly impressions for Hindi entertainment channels have dropped to 2,66,34,272 in October from 3,14,64,769 in January, while the overall monthly average time spent on these channels has also gone down to nearly 100 minutes in October from 104 minutes in January.
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Free-to-air, Indian mythology, re-runs propel channel
Many of the current shows on Dangal TV, a free-to-air (FTA) channel, include those based on Indian mythology and reruns, sprinkled with a few original productions.
The channel appears to enjoy huge popularity across all age groups. If the BARC data is sliced, it shows that the channel clearly enjoys the highest viewership in the rural market, while in the urban market it is just behind a few big players.
Talking to ThePrint, Joy Chakraborthy, CEO of Dangal TV, said the “right distribution” and “right content” aided by extensive research to understand the Hindi heartland has been the reason for Dangal’s success.
“We had a well-planned strategy to invest in distribution and monetisation of ad sales,” he said. “Needless to say, the right people and minds behind selection of content, keeping ROI (return on investment) in mind, play a key role.”
He, however, said the biggest perception that needs to be changed on Dangal is that it runs only reruns of other shows.
“We have been airing original content for over two years now and we have further added a lot of daily as well as weekend original shows that are doing very well from the viewership as well as the revenue perspective,” he said. “In fact, we have more original and weekend shows that we will launch in the coming months.”
He added that there are plans to launch non-fiction shows too, but only at the right time keeping revenues in mind.
A meteoric rise
The Enterr10 Television Network was set up by its managing director Manish Singhal at Indore in 2004. In just two years, Singhal launched the Hindi movie channel Enterr10, and subsequently launched Dangal as a Bhojpuri channel in 2009.
It was re-launched as a Hindi channel in 2010.
The network currently has other regional channels as well — a Bhojpuri movie channel, Bhojpuri Cinema, launched in 2015, a Marathi movie channel, Fakt Marathi, that went on air in 2016 and a Bengali movie channel, Enterr10 Bangla, launched in 2018.
Industry insiders say that one of the reasons for Dangal’s success is its decision to remain a FTA channel following a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) tariff order in February, in which it prohibited broadcasters from bundling free and pay channels in the same bouquet.
Most of Dangal’s competitors chose to convert to pay channels. “Its decision to be a FTA channel contributed significantly to its success because it effectively stood out from its competition,” a source from the industry body Indian Broadcasting Foundation said.
“Of course, its mythological and crime content also gets a lot of traction contributing to its high viewership,”
Advertisers too concur but also laud the channel’s content.
Sai Nagesh, CEO of media firm Tempus Fugit told ThePrint that Dangal TV has managed to achieve leadership due to a dual combination of some astute programming choices and its decision to stay FTA.
“Mythological and historical shows along with some well-produced thrillers, horror and family dramas makes it an interesting package for viewers,” he said. “The ad rates too are competitive and promise good value for money to advertisers.
“To an advertiser, it’s the profile of the viewers that matters, it doesn’t matter if it’s a FTA or a pay channel,” he added. “For Dangal, being FTA is a great advantage as it gets huge numbers due to it. DD dish itself gives the channel access to 30 million households.”
High demand for Dangal’s mythological shows
The industry source quoted above said Dangal’s success is also a sociological story.
“Mythology and crime are both very popular genres among the Indian audience,” the source said. “And Dangal has successfully cashed in on both, as far as their content is concerned.
“Look at record-breaking films such as Jai Santoshi Maa or the popularity of Hindi crime novels in the Hindi heartland,” the source added. “A crime series always appeals to the audience. Dangal has a lot of content across these two genres. In its crime shows, the channel often goes into more details.”
The channel also relies on re-runs to promote its mythological content such as Mahima Shani Dev Ki, first aired on an erstwhile GEC NDTV Imagine. Other popular mythological shows on the channel include Phir Laut Aayi Naagin and Dwarkadheesh Bhagwan Sri Krishna among others.
Chakraborthy agrees that mythological shows rake in the numbers for the channel.
“Mythology still works big time in India,” he said. “We have a great research team that monitors all content and channels to identify the performing genres and mythology works wonders in the Hindi heartland, which happens to be Dangal’s core strength. This is the space where no advertiser can do without Dangal because of the channel’s strength.”
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