Max topples Zee Cinema to claim Hindi movies top spot

MUMBAI: Sony Entertainment TV India's movies and special events channel Max has vanquished arch rival Zee Cinema in terms of channel share and prime time viewership and is enjoying top spot in the Hindi movie channels' space since June this year.

Max has also been standing tall in ratings in the evening day part viewing in the CS 4+ Hindi speaking market. A clear leadership has been seen since June (week 24) when Max had a channel share of 5.49 as compared to Zee Cinema's 5.32 as per Tam data. And since then, there has been no looking back.

Looking at the all day part channel share, in June, Max registered TVRs of 0.76 in the 7 am to 12 am in the CS4+ All India market (excluding South) according to Tam. Zee Cinema stood at 0.68 and Star Gold at 0.59. B4U Movies had a miserable 0.07. These TVRs have been consistent over a period of time. In November, as per the data provided by Tam Max was still leading with 0.62 TVRs ahead of Zee Cinema with 0.58, Star Gold with 0.50 and B4U Movies further dipping in TVRs with 0.03.

What comes as no surprise is that in August and September, which was when the channel aired the Videocon Cup and the ICC Champions' Trophy, Max was way ahead of Zee Cinema and Star Gold in terms of the channel share. However, even after the two tournaments were over, Max has remained a step ahead of the competition in terms of channel share; thus establishing its progress from being a challenger brand to a leadership brand.

In prime time viewership (9 pm to 12 am), Max stood was way ahead with TVRs of 1.25 in June as opposed to Zee Cinema's 0.75. As for the month of November, Max commanded TVRs of 1.08 as opposed to Zee Cinema's 0.76 in CS4+ All India market (excluding South) as per Tam data. Similarly, as far as evening viewership is concerned, Max had TVRs of 0.88 as opposed to Zee Cinema's 0.73, with the same trend continuing till November.

Says SET India COO NP Singh, "Whether it is our initiatives with programming, on-air promotions or marketing initiatives, everything Max does is aimed at delivering on our promise statement - 'Deewana bana de'. Our emphasis on quality and engagement has shown, and been appreciated by viewers and the media marketplace alike. I would say that all this has helped Max, which began as a strong challenger brand, to relegate the leader to the position of challenger and we have been leading ever since June this year."

Absolute channel shares of Max, Star Gold and Zee Cinema

Time period: 1 March -4 December, 2004, Market: Hindi speaking, TG: CS 4+, Source: Tam

On the channel's perception in the market and its impact on advertisers, MediaCom India (Max' media agency) president Jasmin Sohrabji had this to say, "The industry has clearly acknowledged Max's leadership in the Hindi movie genre. Given its lead position and performance, the channel has been able to command a competitive price for its product. As long as there is a requirement and role in the media plan for this genre, the channel will continue to retain and attract new advertisers."

Special events work for Max

One general perception has been that special events are losing steam and failing to draw audiences as well as revenue and that they get more walk-in audiences than appointment viewing. But Singh begs to differ. "Not really, unless, of course, one isn't choosy about what is put on the channel. We believe in getting good quality events, and these traditionally have included the Filmfare Awards, the Femina Miss India, the IFFA Awards and most recently the Indian Telly Awards, to name a few. We also believe in acquiring and showcasing contemporary events, such as the Society Young Achievers' Awards this year, because we are a young, vibrant and engaging channel, and there was a good brand fit with the personality of the awards. Also, while we do get excellent walk-in audiences as you rightly observed, we use events to promote specific properties with strong potential."

Speaking about the advertiser's preference for the channel, Sohrabji says, "The channel attracts almost all categories of advertisers. However, its role in the media plan may differ from advertiser to advertiser. For many it delivers as a frequency channel, for some TGs Max also helps build reach. Day part planning is a function of one's TG and budget availability. In most cases, this genre will skew evening, prime and weekend."

Speaking about Max' growth and initiatives, the channel's vice president marketing and communications Tushar Shah (who will take over as Sony marketing head with effect from 1 January, 2005) says, "The tables turned for us when in 2002, we bid for ICC and got the rights till 2007. This was a whole new challenge for us and we needed to re-look at the branding and marketing strategy of the channel. After doing a swot analysis of the channel, we realised that there were gaps in content and communications, which we bridged by getting in cricket. Then the challenge was communication, for which we decided to speak in the language of the consumer and not the manufacturer."

He further added, "The tagline - 'Deewana Bana De' clearly gave us a communication charter and helped us cut across all forms of communication. It was a promise that had to delivered through programming and content and it was a promise that had to be communicated in terms of the consumer experience. Then came our Gully Cricket ads and the rest as they say is history. We got instant recognition because we showcased this entire campaign during cricket. Kapil Dev came on board at that time as the brand ambassador of the channel."

To cut a long story short, Max has garnered greater consumer affinity and in doing so, has toppled the market leader - Zee Cinema, which has been a leader in the Hindi movie channel space since 1995.

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