Sony banks on gala rounds to pump up 'Idol' numbers

MUMBAI: Nine weeks since its launch and the Sony's big-ticket property Indian Idol seems to be really feeling the heat --- of weighty expectations.

Idol opened well with 4 TVRs in the all India market CS 4+ TG securing the 26th place in the top 100 programs and a 5.78 TVR in the Hindi speaking markets (HSM) CS 4+ but has steadily been losing fizz on the ratings front these past few weeks.

For the channel, a lot now seems to be riding on the expected upsurge that the gala rounds promise to deliver.

Coming back to Idol's ratings, it picked up momentum in its second week garnering 6.41 TVR in the HSM CS 4+ and 4.5 TVR in the all India market CS 4+ TG maintaining the 26th slot in the top 100 shows according to TAM data.

However, after it's dream launch, the show has witnessed a steady downslide. The third and fourth week saw the show's ratings drop to 5.43 and 5.31 TVR in the HSM CS 4+ TG and 3.8 TVR in the all India markets to the 29th position. The fourth and fifth again saw a further drop to 4.93 TVR and 4.91 TVR in the HSM CS 4+ and 3.4 and 3.5 TVR in the all India markets (35th and 33rd position respectively).

And the downward spiral has continued with the latest (eighth week) numbers down to 3.41 TVR in the HSM and 2.7 TVR in the all India market (at 68th position).

The big question really has been this. Considering the channel managed to rope in six associate sponsors with each sponsor reportedly paying Rs 25 million for the entire series; has Idol delivered its due worth to its advertisers?

The associate sponsors being:

1) Nokia

2) Airtel

3) P&G

4) Marico

5) Godrej

6) Pepsi

Speaking to a number of media buyers on the same, most opined that Idol as a show was not just about numbers, and that the show weaves in a lot more value that just plain simple TVRs.

Says Starcom's general manager investments and new initiatives Manish Porwal, "Idol is not just about ratings points. The show is a high involvement and engaging one which brings with it a certain novelty which obviously seemed to have withered out. We also bought spots on Idol in its initial episodes, but stopped after that as a lull was anticipated."

Porwal also said that the show peaked a little too early and it's fall was a little too drastic and not expected. Although a spike is also anticipated in the last lap of the show.

But has Idol fallen flat on its face? Porwal begs to differ. "Considering the show is on the Sony platform, the numbers are fairly good. Also, with the amount of promotional buzz that was created around the show, advertisers definitely seem to have gained a lot a mileage."

A senior media buying executive of Maxus, on request of anonymity, said, "Initially, Idol was promoted very heavily and the channel managed a surround marketing strategy giving the property heavy visibility. The initial response too was great. Yes, the show seems to be witnessing a period of lull, but an upswing is definitely expected. The show has also managed to become the channel driver and with the show's finale in February, the channel would definitely have managed to build a strong slot for themselves."

A couple of other media buyers echoed similar thoughts on the property stating Idol stood for more that just the numbers game.

Coming to what the channel had to offer, a senior executive of Sony said that the trend worldover was a lull during the piano rounds and the true test was yet to be seen.

With the coming of the gala sessions, channel officials seem confident that this would give the show the much needed adrenaline in terms of excitement and numbers.

Well, the test just seems to have begun. And the show doesn't seem to have rubbed anybody the wrong way yet. Whether Idol manages to live up to all the hullabaloo created around it will be known in the weeks to come.

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