For women viewers, it's a siesta fiesta

Channels all over the country are deep focusing on the housewife. And the afternoon is the time to get her undivided attention.

Suddenly, the plain housewife is the cynosure of all eyes.

Television channels, many of who had meted out step motherly treatment to the afternoon hours by playing re-runs in the past, have woken up to the fact that the housewife is the one who actually has the potential of being the darling of all advertisers.

Consequently, it is not just the mainstream Hindi channels with their daily supply of tear jerker soaps that have introduced three hour women‘s blocks but also channels as diverse as Discovery and Hallmark. Regional channels are not far behind either.

Star‘s Tamil language channel Vijay found a gem of afternoon programming in Kadhai Alla Nijam, which the channel claims to have helped it zoom past rivals in the ratings. Malayalam channel Asianet has realized the importance of the housewife as well. Vaal Kannadi an hour-long block in the late afternoon packages music, cookery, interviews - a one in all deal that promises to woo the lady at home. The success of the show is apparent - it recently completed a run of 100 episodes averaging a TRP of 5, an enviable figure for the afternoon slot.

Among the mainstream Hindi channels, however, it is only Star Plus that seems to have realized the true commercial potential of the afternoon band. With a reach of nearly 90 per cent among housewives in the afternoons, it‘s easy to see why. The success of Shagun last year spawned a Bhabhi, followed by Kumkum ek pyarasa bandhan, all of which find consistent honorable mention in the top 50 shows in the ratings.

Zee, which tried to counter family drama with a similar Gharana and Sony which roped in dependable Balaji with a like Kucch Jhuki Palkein, have however, not struck the right chord with the audience. In the 12.30 pm - 4.30 pm slot, when channels assume housewives are at home and free to watch the TV of their choice without the pesky interference of husband and children, Star claims a hefty lead over closest rivals Zee and Sony.

Star Plus claims an enviable lead in the leisure hours of the day

While the channel has a channel share of nearly 20 in September, the other two scraped the leftovers for shares of four each.

Data supplied by TAM presents a similar picture. Across major metros, among females 15+, in the 1 - 4 pm band, Star has a channel share that‘s at least three times more than the other two in the month ended 5 October.

  Star Plus Sony Ent. Zee TV Others Any Channel
City Share Share Share Share Share
AHMEDABAD 25.58 11.59 3.35 59.49 100
BANGALORE 3.45 0.95 0.96 94.64 100
CALCUTTA 12.17 4.16 4.16 79.5 100
CHENNAI 1.14 0.05 0.08 98.73 100
DELHI 37.52 4.42 6.66 51.4 100
HYDERABAD 6.21 1.54 1.86 90.39 100
MUMBAI 18.67 7.45 7.61 66.27 100
TOTAL MARKET 15.24 4.37 4.46 75.93 100

TAM figures for major metros for the month ended 5 October tell a similar story

Channels not peddling the family saga too are hankering for a piece of the housewife driven ad pie too. Discovery, since its relaunch in April this year, has started travel and outlook driven programmes targeted at the SEC A and B woman and is aggressively pushing them with on air promos. Hallmark wants a piece of the action too, with a women‘s block airing movies that would appeal specially to the women in the afternoon hours, a Women‘s Week in Chennai recently and a tie up with Sify to push the connection with the upper crust housewife further. HBO‘s Time Out band begun this September is no different. All channels aver that there is a perceptible pick up in the afternoon hours after the band was defined as ‘belonging to the women‘, although these niche channels can probably not hope to match the success of a Star Plus.

The original afternoon success story however belongs to Doordarshan, which in the early 90s, teamed up with Procter & Gamble to create the revolutionary Shanti. The serial established that an audience existed for the siesta hours, presumed slack till then. Sony followed the trend with its own trend setting shows including the once immensely popular Ek Mahal Ho Sapano Ka, which helped it top the heap of afternoon shows till two years ago. However, with Star Plus having won its way into viewers‘ hearts, its afternoon band also picked up. Says Madison India senior director Harsha Joshi, "Star Plus today is a channel of choice by default in most of the households (and people move on if they do not find the programme interesting). Since it has a good line up, viewers continue to stay on. And believe me, tear jerking women saga works very well with housewives," she says.

Star‘s rise to the top in the noon hours has not been entirely by default though. Well planned shows have contributed in a major way. In its annual presentation to advertisers in the beginning of 2002, Star had assessed its 2001 strategy thus - "The increase has been to the tune of "565 per cent in the 13 hrs - 14 hrs time band... with the launch of Kasauti Zinadagi Kay in week 44 in 2001, the 15 hrs -16 hrs time band has registered mind boggling gains and is rapidly rising."

Another agency that would like to lay claim to the rise of the afternoon spot is UTV which as COO Manish Popat told in an interview earlier this year, "UTV has been the first to explore the afternoon time slot. We have always believed in the slot. We were the first to launch the afternoon daily soap concept in India with Shanti on DD 1. Shagun has re-emphasised our belief in the afternoon time slot and is today the No 1 afternoon show and in fact beats most of the prime time shows across channels."

Not surprisingly, media planners now see the afternoon shows as a good way to reach the major decision makers at a fraction of the cost incurred while advertising on prime time. Says Joshi, "Inventory utilisation is a function of performance and advertisers move where it makes sense in terms of deliveries among the TG (housewives in this case) and cost efficiencies. There was a time when Sony‘s afternoon time band used to full up with inventory and now it is Star Plus which is full up."

DD also has a fair share of viewership in the afternoon, though among non C & S homes. Planners estimate that nearly 25 per cent of the target audience is reached in non C&S homes and about 12 to 15 per cent of the TG in C&S homes is reached through this timeband.

Planners also say that news channels like Zee News and Star News have low inventory utilisation at around 13 per cent and 17 per cent in the afternoon. English news channels like CNN and BBC, which focus more on news and news-based programmes, too have a low inventory utilisation between 12 and 40 per cent in the afternoon band. Another proof that the woman at home definitely is not inclined towards news and current affairs. It‘s siesta fiesta time.

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