Television's prime time slot gets redefined


The definition of a prime time slot has changed. And today, 7.30 pm is the new prime time. Sapne Suhane Ladakpan Ke (SSLK; Zee) and Sasuraal Simar Ka (SSK; Colors) have been doing great in that slot, with the former achieving a remarkable 4.3 TVR this week to top the TRP charts. The new popular slot also explains why filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s debut show, Saraswatichandra (Star Plus), will air at 7.30 pm.
For years till now, prime time used to be between 9 pm and 11 pm. Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki ruled the charts, airing at 10.30 pm and 10 pm respectively. But the game changer was Balika Vadhu (Colors). It started airing at 8 pm, and rapidly gained popularity. Till last year, Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon (Star Plus) and Balika Vadhu were fighting neck and neck for TRPs.
Then Saath Nibhana Saathiya (Star Plus), at 7 pm, became an instant hit, and stayed on top for a long time. It gave the audience that would earlier rely on reruns for entertainment a new show to watch. That’s how the new prime time was created. Many channels tried the earlier slot of 6 pm to 7 pm, but it never worked, mostly because the shows aired in this slot were on their way out anyway.
A show’s slot is never a producer’s call. There are other factors like competition analysis and market research that are taken into account. Smaller towns, for instance, bring in more eyeballs than metros. Ultimately, a channel goes with the research team’s suggestions and a bit of instinct. With Saraswatichandra — a modern day take on an iconic Gujarati novel that has a heavy flavour of Gujarat — airing at 7.30 pm, Star Plus is not just looking to counter SSLK and SSK, but also engaging the tier II and III audience. Shows about the heartland or female-centric themes air from 7 pm to 10 pm, while the city-centric stories now get the 10-11 pm slot.