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Zee TV takes lead in weekday 9-10 prime time

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MUMBAI: It's been a long time coming, but Star Plus' vice like grip on prime time has been breached. Zee TV, which has been methodically building its narrative programming and taken a firm handle on the number two slot, has now made its first major assault on Hindi entertainment's lead channel.

And critically, this has been achieved not by a format show but two soaps working in tandem. Powered by the career best performances from Saat Phere and Kasamh Se, the channel has gone ahead of the market leader Star Plus in the highly contested 9 - 10 pm prime time band for Week 21 (18 May to 24 May), according to Tam.

As per the data, the top programme on Zee TV during the period was the 9:30 pm soap Saat Phere which recorded its best ever 6.61 TVRs on 25 May with a reach of 11.28 per cent and time spent/viewer of 24 minutes. Saat Phere also gave an above average performance on 22 May (4.7) and 26 May (4.68). In the 9 pm slot, Kasamh Se topped with 4.96 TVR on 24 May, 4.68 on 22 May, 4.27 on 25 May and 3.72 on 26 May.

On the other hand, Star Plus' counter soaps Kkavyanjali (9 pm) and Miilee (9:30 pm) for Monday to Thursday performed like this: Miilee - 4.77 TVR on 22 May, 4.17 on 25 May and 3.95 on 24 May. Kkavyanjali - 5.61 TVR on 22 May, 4.25 on 25 May, 4.19 on 24 May and 4.12 on 23 May. On Friday, 26 May, Prithviraj Chauhan recorded 4.24 TVR in the 9:30 pm time slot.

To an extent, the good show from Saat Phere has been attributed to certain creative exercises the channel experimented on the soap. The consistent performance the soap had been maintaining over a long period gave the channel the opportunity to create, play up and reveal a suspense element on the soap and these efforts have now reaped it good fortunes.

24, 25 and 26 of May were crucial for the soap as the suspense was revealed step by step during these days. And as the data reveals, the ploy has worked for Saat Phere and in the process the soap even emerged as the top show of the week in GEC in the 9-10 pm time band.

"Saat Phere had been maintaining an upper trend if you look at the last few weeks data. We knew that the gap was closing. The suspense factor was just one of the reasons, but yes, it has helped the soap to record good numbers. However, this is just a one week performance and we have still got a lot of ground to cover to make our claims to the number one slot in this time band. Now the challenge lies in sustaining this good show," states Zee TV marketing head Tarun Mehra.

Star India senior creative director Shailja Kejriwal agrees that Saat Phere is doing a good job for Zee TV at present. "Zee TV has got two good shows in this time band and we agree that these shows are doing a good job. We have a healthy competition going on."

However Kejriwal is quick to warn Zee that Star Plus wouldn't be sitting idle watching it stealing all the glory. "We are working on a strategy to beat it. Not only our newly launched or upcoming properties, but all the Star Plus prime time shows will play their roles in this process. This is a highly contested slot and we are confident of winning it back. In this particular slot, we have made fight backs earlier also. Earlier we have battled off the Sony soap Kkusum when it was going great guns in this slot. So we are confident of a comeback."

As already reported, Star Plus is launching a one hour soap Viraasat in the 9 pm slot, starting 12 June.

The Tam data for the period also reveals that Zee TV has improved its position in the GRP (Gross Rating Points) space as well. In the 9 pm to 9:30 pm band, Zee recorded GRPs of 4.03 for the week, almost on par with Star Plus' 4.04. But it was in the 9:30 pm to 10 pm slot that Subhash Chandra's channel really made its play achieving average GRPs of 5.02 as against Star Plus' 4.21.

The channel as a whole recorded a GRP of 230 for the week 21, up by 34 points from 196 of the previous week. Meanwhile, the GRPs of Star Plus recorded a decline of 7 points, to 492 in the same week. Sony also went down by 5 points to stand at 103.

What ammunition the "Empire" uses to strike back at the upstart that has intruded into its domain will be watched with interest. Whatever the final outcome though, it's match on for the prime time ratings stakes.

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