On May 6 this year, Satyamev Jayate became the first entertainment series show in the history of Indian television to be simultaneously telecasted on Doordarshan and a private channel. The partnership, which benefited both the channels and their respective agendas, has sparked a new trend of public-private partnerships in the TV industry. The 11 am slot on Sunday morning on Doordarshan that was popularised by Satyamev Jayate, will now air the simulcast of Ramayan which has been commissioned by Zee TV, from August 12.
Ajay Bhalwankar, head-content, Hindi GECs, Zee , strongly feels that some shows, by the sheer virtue of their content, deserve to be made available to every single Indian. “Ramayan has a universal message. To maximise the show’s reach, we have made it available on Doordarshan at the same time slot of 11 am every Sunday. By showcasing Ramayan on a Sunday morning, we wish to engage all members of the family in a joint TV viewing experience.”
A still from Satyamev Jayate, the first entertainment series to be simulcasted on Doordarshan and a private channel
Prem Sagar, producer of the original Ramayan that was telecasted in 1987 on Doordarshan, says, “This is the best thing that’s happened to the TV industry in the recent past. It was a path-breaking idea by STAR to simulcast Satamev Jayate on DD. DD was a sleeping giant until now and the industry has just begun to realise its importance as a medium of mass reach.”
Swati Chakravarty, co-director and head, field research, Satyamev Jayate says, “The simulcast of Satyamev Jayate was Aamir’s idea. He sincerely felt that a show with a social message should be made available to all Indian citizens, classes and masses alike and what better way to ensure that than to simultaneously broadcast it on Doordarshan, that terrestrially connects most of the country’s population.”
Confirming the idea behind the partnership, Gayatri Yadav, executive vice president, marketing & communications, STAR India, says, “This was a show of national importance and we wanted to ensure that every Indian could view it. We felt it was critical to rise above the interests of one channel and come together for a larger purpose. This offered consumers the chance to view and enjoy content with a mass appeal. It unified the cable and satellite audiences with terrestrial network audiences for the first time. It also made sense for advertisers, giving them a unique pan-India platform.”
The number game
Mukesh Sharma, deputy director general, communication and sales, Doordarshan says, “The cable industry is increasingly realising the importance of partnering with Doordarshan, given the large number of viewers it has. Doordarshan penetrates the Indian hinterland much more than cable TV. Private channels have realised that by simulcasting their shows on DD, they are able to garner more popularity for their own shows.”
The effectiveness of the partnership was evident when the launch episode of Satyamev Jayate on Sunday, May 6 at 11 am, achieved the highest reach for any launch episode at 2.7 crore reach as per TAM panel (All 4+, All TV Homes C&S + Terrestrial). Naturally STAR India is very happy that their pioneering initiative has set off a new trend in the industry.
Says Uday Shankar, CEO of STAR India, “The impact of the show is unprecedented and historic and we are truly overwhelmed by the public support this highly emotive show has generated.” However, the partnership arrangement has also benefited Doordarshan substantially and set its cash registers ringing. “DD has indeed greatly benefited from this partnership arrangement,” confirms Sharma. “The ad sales revenue that DD earned per episode of Satyamev Jayate are above Rs 50 lakh. That makes it a staggering Rs 13 crores for 26 weeks of the show’s telecast. The profits are equally shared by DD and the private channel,” says Sharma.
Sharma, who believes this will lead to a strong comeback for Doordarshan, especially after it took a beating from cable TV in the ’90s, says, “With the recent positive developments, Doordarshan is now looking forward to changing its look and feel, but unlike private channels, our content caters to the citizens of India and not to consumers and shareholders.”
Doordarshan is all set to launch new shows , Gora which is based on the life of Rabindranath Tagore and Ek Tha Rusty which essays the stories written by noted author Ruskin bond. “Besides programming , the board of directors also want to pep up the news shows as even today there is a good amount of audience for them as the information reported is credible,” says Sharma. Sharma says that the 11 am Sunday slot has been so popularised by Satyamev Jayate that they were approached by Zee to telecast their show at the same time slot. “Zee approached us for the simulcast of Ramayan and the ad sales for the first episode of Ramayan on Doordarshan have already touched the mark of around Rs 25 lakh.”
No conflict of interest
Industry insiders believe that the trend is here to stay, as there is no danger of transgressing into the other channel’s territory. “The target audience and profile of the advertisers is different, even for the same show that is being aired,” explains Sagar.
“Through this kind of partnership, each party gets to enjoy a substantial share of a bigger pie. Private channels earn in terms of their show popularity and viewership and DD in terms of advertising revenue. Thus , the two channels complement each other rather than compete,” says Sagar.
However, Doordarshan is tight-lipped about more shows in the pipeline for simulcast in the coming months for different time slots. “The decision to simulcast a particular show will depend on the content of the show as we are public broadcasters and are answerable to people for the content we show. Besides simulcasts, DD also has it’s own shows,”says Sharma.
The ad sales revenue DD earned per episode of Satyamev Jayate are above Rs 50 lakh. That makes it a staggering Rs 13 crores for 26 weeks of the show’s telecast. The profits are equally shared by DD and Star India