Star makes a mark in regional; Sun's flanking strategy pays off: IRS Survey

Among Hindi general entertainment channels (GEC), only Star Plus has been able to really improve its position in the regional television space over the years, according to the 2006 IRS survey Round I.

The data offered by Hansa Research and Media Research Users Council (MRUC) on the regional space also reveals the success of Sun Network‘s flanking strategy across the South.


The top 10 lists of the Tamil Nadu and Kerala markets offered by the survey don‘t have a single Hindi GEC player present from this category. The markets Hindi GECs are doing extremely well, according to the survey, are West Bengal, Maharashtra and Punjab.

Though these channels have gone down in rankings overall -- as compared to the 2000 data -- they still have managed to find a place in the top 10 in the Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka markets.

The 2006 rankings of Hindi general entertainment channels in various regional markets. Rankings are given in brackets.

Star Plus: Maharashtra (2), Punjab (2), West Bengal (3), Karnataka (5), Andhra Pradesh (7)

Zee Cinema: West Bengal (4), Punjab (5), Maharashtra (7), Karnataka (9)

Sony: Maharashtra (6), West Bengal (7), Punjab (7), Andhra Pradesh (10)

Zee TV: Maharashtra (8), Punjab (9)

Max: West Bengal (9)

Star Gold: Punjab (10)

Now, compare these positions with the 2000 rankings:

Star Plus: Maharashtra (7), Punjab (6), West Bengal (10), Karnataka (9), Tamil Nadu (10)

Zee Cinema: West Bengal (3), Punjab (5), Maharashtra (6), Karnataka (10)

Sony: Maharashtra (4), West Bengal (4), Punjab (4), Andhra Pradesh (5), Karnataka (4), Kerala (10)

Zee TV: Karnataka (5), Andhra Pradesh (6), Maharashtra (3), West Bengal (5), Punjab (3).

Star Sports: Karnataka (7), Andhra Pradesh (8), Kerala (7), Maharashtra (8), West Bengal (8), Tamil Nadu (7), Punjab (10)

ESPN: Andhra Pradesh (9), Kerala (8), Maharashtra (10), West Bengal (7), Tamil Nadu (8)

The chart projects an improved performance from Star Plus, when comparing the viewership figures of 2000 and 2006. For example, its West Bengal performance graph has shot up from the 10th position to the 3rd. Though the general entertainment channel (GEC) lost the Tamil Nadu market as it reached 2006, the consolation has come in the form of Andhra Pradesh, where it is positioned in the seventh spot as per the data.

"The data clearly portrays Star Plus‘ journey post Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC). KBC established the channel in the Hindi speaking markets and it proved to be a strong launch pad for the channel in the non-Hindi regions. This followed the strategy to strengthen this position through serials, and that saw the entry of all those K serials. Star Plus used its serials effectively lure the all India market. The strategy worked except for Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which are known as hardcore regional language markets," says Hansa Research marketing & client servicing India head V Sudarshan.

Speaking on the channel‘s good show in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Sudarshan offers, "These states have certain Hindi speaking belts and hence, the channel is doing considerably well in these South markets as well."

Zee Cinema has been successful in retaining all the four markets as it reached 2006, but improvement came only from the Karnataka market. At the same time, the 2006 regional performance graphs of Zee and Sony are not very convincing. As the data given above reveals, Zee TV has lost the top 10 position in as many as three markets, while Sony lost in two. For both the channels, Maharashtra and Punjab proved to be the comfort zones.

"Zee and Sony were doing decently well with their serial-oriented strategy in the regional markets. However, of late, both the channels were seen devoting their important slots to gameshows and talent hunts. This diversion might have failed to impress the regional market," opines Sudarshan.


Now coming to regional channels, the 2006 picture is predictable as far as top rankings are concerned. The data shows a Sun Network dominance in Karnataka (Udaya) and Tamil Nadu (Sun) markets. ETV is number one in Andhra Pradesh, while Asianet has edged out Sun‘s Surya TV to clinch the top spot in Kerala.

In Tamil, while Raj TV has gone down from the 3rd position (2000) to 6th (2006), Jaya TV has done well to reach the third spot this year. The data also offers a portrayal of how Sun Network‘s flanking strategy worked in the Southern space. The bonanza came from the Tamil Nadu market, where Sun‘s movie and music channel KTV holds the second position behind the market leader Sun TV. SCV is in the 5th spot, while Sun News has made it into the 8th spot. In Karnataka, Sun channels hold the top positions. Behind Udaya (1) and ETV Kannada (2), placed in the third position is Ushe, a niche channel from Sun.

In Andhra Pradesh, Sun has in its hold the second (Gemini) and third positions (Teja), which together beat the estimated viewership numbers of ETV. Thus the data even puts ETV‘s inactivity in the flanking realm under scrutiny. The only multiple channel ETV has is ETV 2, the news channel, in Andhra Pradesh.

As per the data, the entry of new regional players has taken a toll on Hindi general entertainment channels‘ viewership share in these markets. The new entrants Maa TV (4th rank) in Andhra Pradesh, Kairali (4), Jeevan TV (7), Asianet News (8) and Kiran TV (10) in Kerala have done well in 2006.


Hindi general entertainment channels continue to hog the limelight in the non-South markets in 2006 also. In Maharashtra, there are only three regional channels which have made it into the top ten list: ETV Marathi (3), DD Sahyadri (4) and Zee Marathi (9).

Except for ETV Bangla‘s strong second position, the West Bengal market also presents a somewhat similar picture: DD Bangla (5), Akash Bangla (6) and Zee Bangla (10). Again, there is a complete dominance by Hindi general entertainment channels in the Punjab market. Only ETC Punjabi (6th rank) and Balle Balle (8) are the regional channels which have made it into the top 10.


Surprisingly, sports channels ESPN and Star Sports haven‘t made it into the top 10 in 2006, in any of the seven regional markets presented. "In India, the most valued property for a sports channel is cricket. The lack of cricket content has its negative effect on ESPN and Star Sports this year," reasons Sudarshan.

News channels might be in the limelight presently, but the report mentions only two in the 2006 chart: DD News in Punjab, West Bengal (8), Maharashtra (10) and Kerala (9); Aaj Tak (4) in Punjab. Explains Sudarshan, "You would find only two national news channels in 2006‘s top ten list, but even that is a huge phenomenon when compared to the no show in 2000. As per indications, the next two years will see more Hindi news channels entering the top 10. Speaking about the inactivity from English news channels, they cater to only SEC A & B. And these segments together constitute only 20 per cent of the all India market."


The superiority DD - 1 National Network enjoyed in 2000, by topping in the viewership chart in six out of seven regional markets, is a tale of the past when the market enters 2006. In 2000, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Punjab and Kerala had DD-1 garnering highest viewership among adults, the Andhra Pradesh market had gone in favour of ETV.

But as we reach 2006, DD-1‘s dominance has reduced to three regional markets: Maharashtra, West Bengal and Punjab. DD-1 has gone down in rankings in markets like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The market where DD-1 has really taken a beating is Tamil Nadu, where it has been relegated to the ninth position.

"That explains the kind of C&S penetration South India underwent in the last few years. Especially in Tamil Nadu, the C&S penetration has been tremendous. The non-South markets, especially West Bengal, the penetration has been low," says Sudarshan.

Speaking about the performance by DD‘s regional channels in 2006, the best show has come from West Bengal. Both DD-1 (1st rank) and DD Bangla (5) have sustained their positions, when compared to their 2000 rankings.

In Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra also, DD‘s regional channels have been doing decently well. However, there is bad news from Karnataka, Kerala and Punjab markets. In Karnataka, DD Kannada has dipped from the third position to the 10th. In Kerala and Punjab, the respective DD channels have vanished from the respective 6th and 2nd spots.

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