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Telugu television rewrites script in 2010 - Sun TV Network SVP, business head- Telugu cluster Sanjay Reddy

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It could be over two decades now that cable TV brought changes to our living room. Looking back in the year 2010 in Andhra Pradesh Television, the changes have been more real and how. One can clearly attribute the C&S penetration to have fuelled a number of changes in the overall consumption pattern of television. The C&S market saw a steady growth in the past one year. Out of the total of 19.9 million households, C&S households stood at 11.3 million and with a 95 per cent penetration.  

  TV viewing Individuals(Millions) CS individuals (Millions)
  2009 2010 2009 2010
Hyderabad 6.6 6.9 6.4 6.7
Rest of AP 9.3 9.9 8.9 9.5

Echoing the pan India trend, the DTH market in Andhra Pradesh has also seen a slow penetration. But as per the trends, the growth in the past year has been encouraging.

  2009 (Mn) 2010(Mn)
Hyderabad 0.3 0.5
Rest of AP 0.2 0.5

Until 2008, there were only a few Telugu news channels in the state such as TV9, ETV2, NTV and TV5, alongside the entertainment ones, like Doordarshan’s Saptagiri, ETV, Gemini TV, Teja TV, Maa TV and Zee Telugu. In 2009, the simultaneous holding of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections marked a surge in news channels as film star Chiranjeevi announced his entry into active politics. These included Sakshi TV, HMTV, HYTV, Maha TV, Studio-N, Zee 24 Gantalu and ABN Andhra Jyothy.

With the launch of Raj TV, the state now has 15 news channels compared with nine general entertainment channels. This year also saw the opening of two other news channels - Janta TV & Channel 4. It’s intriguing to see this rush to start news channels in an already cluttered space. It can be seen that there was neither clear economics nor appealing newsworthiness in the launch.

The GEC space also saw a shakeout with Asianet Sitara near close down after the initial euphoria. MAA TV’s ambitious launch of news channel also was ephemeral. The start of 2010 also was abuzz with recession and in the guise channels slashed salaries of middle and top executives, while revenue showing northward trend had it’s effect on the talent movement.

Matter-of-Fiction

The best kept secret in television is out. The year 2010 saw many a script rewritten in Telugu television - be it fiction, reality, or movies. The race for number one slot in GEC heated up. Gemini TV remained the undisputed leader followed by ETV, and then MAA TV and ZEE TV taking the place in rounds over the past 52 weeks. What’s to be taken note here is Gemini Movies, the only 24 hour Telugu movie channel, cemented its position as a clear number 2 in the channel rating list.

Telugu audience has seen a transformation in terms of when faced with a choice between convention and crudity on television, but for a change in the year 2010 the audiences opted for family fun. It‘s not only because 90 per cent of AP’s TV households have one TV and TV-watching is still a collective experience. When faced with the option of watching a story and watching an done to death dance/item number, the audience choice was clear: they would rather be engaged than amused. So it comes as no surprise that fiction ruled the roost with serials like Mogilirekulu of Gemini consistently delivering numbers, proving to be APs no 1 fiction at 8:30 p.m.

Aata of Zee TV showed crudity, and this came under scanner with women activists crying hoarse because of the content and young dancing with almost little or no drape and suggestive moves, thus showing what the audience prefer. And the second half started to witness a decline in the viewership in the same genre.

  Serials Reality/ Non
  Oct-Dec(09) Oct-Dec(10) Oct-Dec(09) Oct-Dec(10)
Gemini TV 295 380 70 58
Maa Telugu 52 25 120 80
Zee Telugu 45 100 150 54
Eenadu TV 140 175 85 70



From a audience perspective, AP market became a copycat market as the non-fiction/reality show of the north were audaciously duplicated with shows like Genius on MAA TV being a pale copy of multitude of reality shows from UTV & MTV, Adrustham on MAA was a near copy of Deal No Deal, a format owned by Endemol which was later pulled off air after being served a notice from Copyright holder Endemol.

The second half also saw a resurgence of a new format in the name of family show & game show. ETV launched “Genes” and Zee TV “Bathuku Jatka Bandi” with Sumalatha. The chat show format got a much needed impetus with Jayaprada joining the bandwagon with “Jayapradam” on MAA TV.

Fiction gained the foothold through the year with socially relevant topic and better technical value in production. “Sundarakanda” on Gemini TV is a case in point where daughter married to NRI and the subsequent fallout in the marriage came to the fore; hence a case where media is called upon increasingly to educate, not merely excite.

From a content perspective also, it was the younger clique on television while keeping in sync with the social moorings

Year 2010 also saw Tollywood stars going beyond shaking their legs on TV reality shows to promote their films. To create a win-win situation for both channels and production houses, there is an exploration of synergies between movies and popular soaps/shows. Some of the prominent faces on television in the year 2010 were Nagababu in “Aparanji”, Vani Vishwnath in “Samudram” on Gemini TV, Jagapathy Babu in “Raju Rani Jagapahty” on ETV, Jayapradha in “Jayapradham” on MAA TV, Saikumar on WOW on ETV. This for sure is bridging the gap between television and Tollywood.

Marketing & Advertising

The relationship between sales growth, ad spend-sales ratio and market share is complex. Having said that, television is still the lord of the world and a powerful medium. In Andhra Pradesh, TV and print spends in the year 2010 have been huge.

Year 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011
Revenue in Crores in TV 340 460 528 601 725

Before I sum up let us take a look at how TV network shares moved in the last one year.

Network wise GRP Trends, CS 4+ All SEC

  2009(Oct-Dec) 2010(Oct-Dec) Change in %
Sun Network 1144 1388 21.3
Etv Network 456 420 -7.90
Maa Network 447 384 -14.1
Zee Network 410 380 -7.32

Network wise Absolute Channel share %, CS 4+ All SEC

  2009(Oct-Dec) 2010(Oct-Dec) 2010(Jan-Dec)
Sun Network 27.2 32.1 18
Etv Network 10.6 9.7 -8.50
Maa Network 10.9 8.9 -18.35
Zee Network 9.8 8.8 -10.20

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