Star One carves out fresh viewer space

NEW DELHI: There's a new species of viewer out there tuning in to the Hindi entertainment space. And it is Star One that they are watching.

The ratings have come in and they have a comforting feeling for the Star India team that their hunch on Star Ones target audience wasn't off the mark. Rather, initial figures testify that a new category of audience has been located.

What is considered by the TV industry as a fickle audience, 15-34 age group in SEC A and B, is tuning in to Star One in a big way. In the first three weeks only, TAM data shows that 47 per cent of this target audience, which works out to more than three million upscale young Indians, has sampled Star One with some programmes rocking metros like Mumbai. Initial tune-ins got off the block with 29 per cent in the first week and buildt up to 41 per cent in the second week.

No wonder, Star India COO Sameer Nair cannot stop smiling. We have invested heavily in Star One (the figure, of course, was not disclosed), but thankfully, initial numbers show we have found the new (category of) audience, he tells

More comforting is the fact that Star Ones audience share is not eating into the flagship product, Star Plus. For that matter, it is not eating into the share of other entertainment channels either. You either watch Star One or dont watch it. It cannot be that people sample Star One for some time and then revert to Star Plus or Zee TV or a Sony for their daily dose of mush, intrigue and hankies.

Nair would, of course, like to define this trend in a jazzier manner: Star One is not a choice, but an alternative.

Starting with an all-day share of 1.2 per cent, Star Ones share inched up to 1.4 in the third week, as per TAM data. During prime time, the channel made an entry with 1 per cent in the first week, but showed some pace to end the third week with a channel share of 1.5 per cent. I look at the numbers as new audiences we wanted to tap into. Especially as its a growing category, Nair says, even while admitting that if compared to Star Plus figures --- which he stresses should not be done --- Ones shares are peanuts. And, the new audience is being strategically wooed: no cross channel promos of Star One on Star Plus, but target the traditional weakest segment of weekends to establish the One brand.

Programming has to play out a bigger role in sustaining this new audience. Thats why the fare being dished out has been designed in a way to evoke quick responses --- you either like it or dont like it; theres no middle path to walk on in Star One. Citing the example of one such show, The Great Indian Comedy, Nair points out that the Star office has been inundated with calls either supporting or brutally criticising the show. One caller even went to the extent of saying it was the worst show he had seen on TV. Mission accomplished: get people to react and that too quickly; no endless falling in love in this age of SMS and remixes.

No wonder, the programme Remix is proving to be a hit with the young audience, especially females. In Mumbai, for example, it notched up a TRP of 8.01 one day --- the lowest being 3.45 per cent --- amongst females in the age group of 10-24 from SEC A and B.

That cities like Mumbai are being aggressively targeted by Star One can also be gauged from the fact that the channel had a share of 2.2 per cent in Mumbai between 1-20 November, thus leading the field of Ten Sports, MTV, NDTV India, Discovery, Sab TV, HBO, AXN and Sahara One. AXN had the lowest market share (0.5 per cent) for this particular market during the period under review.

Legal drama Siddhant, too, has received favourable response along with others like Sarabhai vs Sarabhai and Instant Khicdi, which moved from Plus to One. But all these shows are tailored for the 26-39 episodic run that would give the

channel managers a chance to go in for the second season of fresh programming.

Audiences are tasting it, okay. But are the advertisers and media planners biting it with enough enthusiasm? Thats the next speed-breaker to be negotiated by Star. Without directly saying that advertising response hasnt set the next door river on fire, Nair, again chooses to be diplomatic.

According to him, all kinds of advertisers are there on Star One, but the strategy being followed is to push for the clients most premium brand. For instance, if Hindustan Lever is a client of Star, then the Star One team would advise Levers to promote its premium brands like Lux soap on the channel, instead of a Hamam.

Having found its niche, the name of the game would be sustainability. Can Star One build and sustain its new audience through innovative programming and marketing? Nair thinks its possible as in his own words: Star One is like a dam, waiting to burst. Now only the trickles can be seen.

Well wait for that One.

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