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The bitter truth

Star hasn’t lost financially on Satyamev Jayate, but falling ratings raise questions on the show’s business model

They say numbers don’t lie. And the cold, hard truth is that Satyamev Jayate (SMJ) hasn’t lived up to its hype. Never mind the thousands of Facebooks ‘likes’, the millions of views on YouTube and the innumerable tweets on Aamir Khan’s chat show with a conscience — the gold standard of success in TV programming is the rating point and that says SMJ has, shall we say, underperformed. Hit prime time weekday shows (usually soaps) on cable TV get consistent ratings of 3.5-4, but against an anticipated 6-7 gross ratings points (GRP), Star India’s most-expensive show ever has garnered average all-India ratings of only 2.3 on its flagship channel Star Plus, in the crucial 15-44 age group (see: A big miss), according to media planners.

That’s bad news for Star. Not because it’s out of money on the show (it’s not, but more on that later), but because clearly it hasn’t hit on a formula that has repeat value. SMJ was pre-sold to advertisers who paid a whopping Rs.8-10 lakh for a 10-second spot — incidentally, that’s the highest-ever advertising rate on Indian television. Now that the show hasn’t garnered the promised viewership, not only is its future (a second season) in question, it’s also doubtful that Star will be able to pre-sell any other show at such ridiculously high rates. Of course, Star insists the response to the show has been “encouraging”. “The show has delivered like no other i

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