Television

Sony, Star One bid to get back on narrative track

It was in early October 2005 that we last had a close look at the Hindi entertainment space. What did we see then?

The top programmes on Star Plus were witnessing a ratings erosion of between 10-12 per cent on an average. But the key point then was that though Star Plus‘ top shows had dropped on the TRP scale, the channel share had dropped by only 5 per cent due to the expansion of the performing time bands to the weekend --- thanks to KBC 2 and its effect on the weekend line up on the channel.

KBC 2‘s unexpected exit and Star Plus‘ failure to present a fitting substitute exposed the channel‘s overdependency on the property

Add to that was the huge success sibling Star One enjoyed on the back of two talent shows Nach Baliye and The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. So, Star as a network ended the year on a super high note with Star Plus managing to hold steady its grip on Hindi entertainment and the added bonus of Star One‘s meteoric rise in the reckoning.

Going into the month of April 2006 though, the picture is looking a whole lot different. What has been extensively reported on is Zee TV‘s overtaking of Sony Entertainment Television India’s flagship channel SET to ensconce itself firmly as the clear number two in the Hindi entertainment space.

What not many seem to have taken note of though is the way Star Plus’ flanker channel, which Star Entertainment India CEO Sameer Nair had hoped would make a serious assault on the number two position, has plummeted hugely from a high of 15.1 channel share in the second week of December to a lowly 5.5 for the week ended 30 April (see charts).

This brings us to a posit that has been made earlier, but with specific reference to SET --- that the recipe of relying on format shows to deliver would prove difficult to sustain as a long term proposition.

In a sense, the trajectory of both SET and Star One has been similar. While the format shows have offered them temporary spikes, the lack of strong wraparound drama content has meant that overall there has only been a downward spiral witnessed.

Star Plus has finally zeroed in on the period drama Prithviraj Chauhan to fill the void created by KBC2‘s exit

Comparing the two is not exactly warranted, though except to draw attention to the inability of the format shows to drive up the channel as a whole without solid dramas (or as Nair terms it narrative fiction) as the main menu proposition.



Why is it incorrect to compare? The format shows worked brilliantly for Star One in the sense that if one looks at where the channel was before these shows “did the trick” it was far lower than where it is now. So basically, Star One is now in direct competition with Sahara One (which has improved on the ratings reckoner). It would appear that the only way ahead from Star One is up, which should be good news as a lot of hope and money is riding on the channel.

For Sony, a lot depends on how the strategy that the channel is charting on the narrative fiction front takes off. The results haven‘t been too encouraging so far though with the two new prime time shows launched simultaneously on 24 April (Aisa Des Hai Mera and Thodi Khushi Thode Gham) yet to make an impact. This stands out in stark relief when compared to Zee TV‘s new prime time show Jabb Love Hua, which launched the same day and is doing far better.

Channel
Key properties
April-May average ratings combined
Star Plus Kyunki..., Kahaani..., Kasauti... 12.64 TVR
Star One Laughter Challenge, Mano Ya Na.., Kya Hoga.. 2.61 TVR
Zee TV Saath Phere, Kasamh Se 4.44 TVR
Sony Idol final & Idol Muqabla, Fear Factor, CID 3.36 TVR
Sahara One Cricket, Woh Rehne Wali.., Hanuman (film) 2.76 TVR
Sab TV Caravan (film), Idol Takka Tak, Wah Wah, Lo Kal.. 0.52 TVR

Source: TAM Peoplemeter System TG: CS 4 years + Markets: Hindi Speaking Markets

Period: 2/4/06 to 6/5/06

After Saath Phere and Kasamh Se, Zee‘s latest prime time property Jabb Love Hua is now ringing the alarm bells for rival channels

If one were to look at Zee, Saath Phere at 9:30 pm delivered and that has given the channel a huge boost. The good show from Kasamh Se, coming at 9 pm, has doubled the channel‘s excitement. According to Tam, the latest prime time offering Jabb Love Hua has also achieved a strong opening. Zee also has strong properties in its afternoon soaps, Paalki and Mamta. Zee is presently strategising its moves to strengthen the afternoon band further.

What gave Zee the momentum was of course Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2005, which has been a solid home grown quality format property which has pretty much chugged along without too much media noise all these years. When Zee made substantial investments in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge, it got the dividends.

Sony’s format overkill and the resultant viewer fatigue worked against ‘Indian Idol 2‘ in viewership charts

While speaking of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge, the case of Sony’s Indian Idol 2 immediately comes into the frame. We remain convinced that Idol is an intrinsically a strong property. So frankly, we are surprised at the low (comparatively) ratings it delivered. About the only reason that makes sense is that Sony’s format overkill led to viewer fatigue.



After the first edition of Indian Idol signed off on such a high note, in came Fame Gurukul, which also took the music talent route. From a viewer’s perspective, it was one into the next and before gathering breath as it were, there was Idol 2 back again.

There was a lot of “format noise” on the rival channels as well so that also has to be factored in. Music talent hunt Sa Re Ga Ma Pa has already been discussed. Then there was the celebrity dance contest Nach Baliye and the Great Indian Laughter Challenge on Star One and of course the big daddy of them all KBC 2 on Star Plus.

Will the new soaps such as Aisa Des Hai Mera and Thodi Khushi Thode Gham see Sony pulling its viewers back to the drawing room?

How do the coming months look for Sony? Well it depends on what are the narrative fiction shows that the channel has launched as well as those in the pipeline fare. Drawing from the example of the US, NBC has slid because it has found nothing to replace cult hits like Friends, Seinfeld and Frasier while ABC’s surge has filled the "vacuum" with hits like Desperate Housewives, Lost and Grey’s Anatomy.

Coming back to Sony, Jassi has bid its long overdue adieu and the channel has tapped the horror genre (Khauffnak) as its replacement. The show is expected to conclude by June end. What shows the channel throws up next in the time band and how Aisa Des Hai Mera and Thodi Khushi Thode Gham ultimately fare in the ratings reckoning could well determine whether the coming months see SET’s ratings curve travelling north or further south.

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