Zee TV inches past Sony; battle moves to prime time

It is the fight, not for the first, but for the second position! Zee TV has surged ahead of Sony Entertainment Television with the charge led by a couple of popular shows and afternoon movies.Even in the prime time band it has jumped in ratings, though a resolute Sony TV has managed to hang on to the lead.

These are the key points that would strike one while looking at Tam data (CS4+ Hindi Speaking Markets) for the 11-week period ended 21 January 2006:

Peaking in the week of 25 December at 16.5 per cent, Zee TV?s average channel share in the All-day part stands at 15 per cent during the period 6 November to 21 January. As the average share for the month of November was low at 12.5 per cent, a dash in ratings actually came during December-January.

Sony saw a reverse gear movement. While the average channel share was 14 per cent in November, it fell down to 13 per cent for the whole 11 week period. Star Plus, in the number one position, enjoys a strong lead here with 54.7 per cent channel share. And in the latest week in which Tam data is available (ending 21 January), Sony?s share further dropped to 12.4 per while Zee TV improved to a high of 17.7 per cent.

The extensive repackaging of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa to fight the rival talent hunts turned out to be a masterstroke for Zee TV

The trick that clicked for Zee TV was a revamped Sa Re Ga Ma Pa which became the channel?s top-rated show. Also aiding Zee TV?s upsurge was Saath Phere -- the ?unconventional? story of a girl?s search for her unique identity -- which was launched in October.

Says Zee TV programming head Ashwini Yardi, "These two shows have made significant contributions to Zee TV?s kitty. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa was revamped this year and the show has delivered tremendously. Saath Phere has been a very successful experiment. We are also expecting the newly launched Kasamh Se to deliver in the coming days."

Sony pins hopes on its trump card, the finals of Indian Idol 2

SET India COO N P Singh admits Zee TV is catching up. "We have noticed the trend over the last 11 weeks. Zee is in neck and neck fight with Sony in prime time but it is a short term phenomenon. Our biggest property Indian Idol 2 will soon be reaching its peak when it enters the final round. We are also beefing up our entire programming schedule - fiction as well as non-fiction offerings - in the coming month. We are planning a whole lot of promotional push on our prime time properties as well as our afternoon band."

A separate look at the afternoon and prime time bands provide specific reasons behind Zee?s improved show. The afternoon band, delivering an average channel share of 12.5 per cent for the 11-week period, has been crucial to keep Zee TV ahead of Sony which enjoys a 10.4 per cent share. Here, Star Plus enjoys the top position with an average channel share of 59 per cent. According to programme ratings, Zee TV is above Sony in the 11-week period with an average TVR of 1.04. Sony?s average score is 0.8 TVR during this period.

Saath Phere, the soap that presented an unconventional heroine, has been Zee TV?s best find in the recent times

Zee TV?s afternoon band is mainly driven by movies. Of the top 20 programmes delivered for the channel in the afternoon band for the specified period, Zee TV has feature films such as Tarzan the Wonder Car (2.19 TVR), Hum Saath Saath Hain (1.72 TVR) and Maine Pyar Kiya (1.14 TVR) occupying the top 10. The soap Piya Ka Ghar delivers an average of 0.8 TVR.

Sony?s mix in the afternoon band comprises movies, talent search, events and soaps. Feature film Chamatkar delivered the highest rating of 0.99 TVR during the 11-week period. Talent search 10 Ke 10 Le Gaye Dil?s peak rating was 0.91, while soap Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin (repeat telecast) scored 0.87 TVR. The action thriller Crime Patrol followed Jassi... with a rating of 0.85.

The prime time story is looking better for Zee TV, though it is still lagging behind Sony. Zee TV, which started the week ended 12 January with a channel share of 6.6 per cent, has gained to have an average share of 9.4 per cent during the 11-week period. Sony is well ahead with an average channel share of 15.6 per cent in the prime time band.

The second season of Indian Idol will enter its final leg in March

But for the latest week in which Tam data is available (ending 21 January), the two channels are engaged in a neck and neck fight. Zee TV?s share has climbed to 13.4 per cent while Sony is hanging marginally ahead at 14 per cent. Star Plus, the leader, is way ahead with 59.4 per cent channel share.

Elaborating on the good performance, Zee TV marketing head Tarun Mehra says, "Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge at 10 pm has been the channel driver so far. The programme flourished on interesting content and extensive marketing. Then a new launch Saath Phere at 9:30 pm delivered and that has given the channel a huge boost. Recently, Kasamh Se, coming at 9 pm, has opened well. We have strong properties in our afternoon soaps, Paalki and Mamta. We are presently strategising our moves to strengthen this band further."

Zee TV has been less successful in the weekends, despite having launched some big ticket properties such as Kam Ya Zyaada and Hum Paanch. "There is still scope for improvement. We are still confident about Hum Paanch?s potential to deliver and we are internally reviewing Kam Ya Zyaada," states Mehra.

Zee made substantial investments in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, which returned it good dividents

Speaking about life after Sa Re Ga Ma Pa which runs to a seasonal close by February-end, Mehra hints at the possibility of Zee brandishing some big properties in the coming months. "We are in the process of fine tuning some concepts. We realise we need strong properties to retain our dominance in the 10 pm slot. We will be making some announcements in the next two-month period. The second season of Zee Cine Stars Ki Khoj and the much-awaited gameshow Business Baazigar are also coming up soon," says Mehra.

Additional inputs by Hetal Adesara

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