Sony hopes to ride on Idol's initial success

MUMBAI: Sony's mega budget show Indian Idol enjoyed a debut rating of 5.8, spurring the channel to launch new programmes to take Star Plus' runaway success Kyunki... head on.

The plan is to create a strong 10.30 PM band by introducing new shows in December. Sony hopes Indian Idol will provide the lead-in with the one-hour show airing on Thursdays at 9.30 PM Add to this a 10-minute Idol update capsule at 7.55 PM and 10.30 PM to keep interest of viewers alive. Clips that have not been aired on Idol will also be showcased across all time bands.

"All that I can say is that we will not have a soap, but we will introduce new shows in the 10.30 PM band across the belt in December. Idol will help increase our viewership base and promote our new shows," says Sony's EVP programming and response Tarun Katial.

What has led to this optimism is Idol's average rating of 5.4 for the first three episodes. In Mumbai, the show did even better with 9 TVRs while in Delhi it enjoyed 8.3 TVRs according to TAM data.

Says Sony's EVP Sunil Lulla, "This kind of opening ratings is definitely a recognition of the potential this show has to offer. The viewership has doubled for us in this time slot. Our channel share has also grown."

Sony's channel share in the C&S 4+ universe (HSM) has gone up from 19 per cent to 24 per cent after the launch of Idol. Star Plus' share has dropped four per cent to 60 per cent, while Zee TV slipped by two per cent to 10 per cent.

Overall, net GRPs of the channel increased from 100 to 135 and in the one million + towns GRPs have gone up from 115 to 152.

In Sony's core target audience of 15-34 years( SEC ABC), the channel share has gone up five per cent to 25 per cent. Star Plus' share has dropped four per cent to 57 per cent while Zee slipped one per cent to 12 per cent .

Speaking on Star Plus' drop in channel share, Star India's senior vice president content and communications Deepak Segal says, " Yes, we are aware that there has been a lot of sampling of Idol. Lets see where it heads."

But the big question for Sony is: Will the initial viewer interest in Idol last? Lulla is optimistic. " In all other countries, the opening ratings of Idol as a format show have been softer. The pick up really begins in the 5th and 6th week of launch. Here we have had a better start."

But that doesn't still say whether Idol will have a better run. If it does, it will hopefully end Sony's long search for a channel driver. "Sony has not been able to create a hugely successful show for long, on which it could drive the channel. Jassi... had provided an opportunity to build the channel but no serious strategy was in place to ride on it," says a media analyst.

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