Big fight is in Hindi GEC middle rung

Think television and what commonly springs to mind are Hindi general entertainment channels (GEC) like Star Plus, Zee TV, Sony, etc… That list keeps getting longer with ever new entrants in the space.

This has forced existing channels to pull up their socks and gird for the fight that is only going to get more fractious. At present though, the sorting is like this: Channels number 1 and 2 are head and shoulders above the pack. Much lower down in the second tier are another two contenders slugging it out. Then come the also rans (at least for the present), each trying to make an impression.

These are some observations that can be highlighted after analyzing the performances in the Hindi GEC arena over the last six months (July to December 2007) based on data provided by Tam (C&S 4+, HSM), both relative market share and GRPs.

Star drops but still leads; Zee closes gap, slips back

There is still no argument. Star Plus, as has been the case for the last seven+ years, holds firmly onto pole position, despite Zee TV‘s best efforts at tipping the ratings scales in its favour.

Looking at the channel shares, Star Plus garnered 36 per cent in July and was consistent till September. But it picked up strongly to reach 39 per cent in October. Nach Baliye 3 had a big role to play in strengthening Star Plus‘ position.

Star India VP marketing and communication Prem Kamath says, "Zee TV saw an increase in the ratings post Sa Re Ga Ma Pa launch, which had narrowed the gap between Star Plus and Zee. Though there are a number of other things that have happened in Star Plus which have pushed the channel back to its place."

Relative channel share
Channel Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Star 36 36 36 39


Zee 29 29 32 32 30 29
Sony 14 15 14 11 11 11
Star One 7 7 7 6 6 7
Sahara 9 9 9 8 8 8
Sab 5 4 3 3 4 3
9X 0 0 0 0 2 4
Source: Tam (c&s 4+, HSM)

"Last four to five weeks‘ data clearly say that Star Plus is considerably ahead of Zee. Several initiatives that we launched further strengthened our position. A weekly fiction based show called Sangam was launched in August. With Sangam, we extended our prime time to 7 PM, followed by Santan at 7:30 PM Santan is doing extremely well in its time band with 2+ rating. Bidaai, which launched in the 9 PM slot is fetching good numbers. All the newly launched shows cumulatively have consolidated our position in the genre," says Kamath.

On the other hand Zee TV started with a market share of 29 per cent, peaked and at 32 per cent in September. After staying consistent in October , it again fell to 30 per cent and 29 per cent in November and December.


Says Joy Chakraborthy, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) president and revenue, "This year Zee TV has done phenomenally well. Every inventory was utilised. We got more campaigns than any other channel. We have traded well and that speaks well of us."

The year brought good fortune for Zee TV as programmmes like Banoo Main Teri Dulhann and Sa Re GA Ma Pa could put down the Super Ks of Star Plus in terms of TVR, on several occasions. Its other shows like Saat Phere have also enjoyed steady eyeballs.

Queried about Zee‘s drop in channel share, Chakraborthy says, "Dips in GRPs do occur when a show ends. But that is marginal. Our FPC is designed strategically and it offers variety of programs across categories. That has helped us in getting and retaining advertisers."

"We would love to overtake Star. Our sales have hyped and we are anyways ahead of them in weekday prime time GRP (Monday to Friday) 7-10 PM," avers Chakraborthy.

GRP January 2008, week days - all day
Channel Week 1 Week 2
Star 368.16 344.83
Zee 273.7 271.84
Sony 90.46 77.17
Star One 72.71 75.51
Sahara 64.49 66.45
Sab 25.11 29.08
9X 40.17 37.75
Source: Tam (c&s 4+, HSM)



GRP January 2008, weekdays - Prime Time
Channel Week 1 Week 2
Star 226.65 192.42
Zee 169.04 170.84
Sony 52.51 46.77
Star One 37.05 41.93
Sahara 27.13 27.74
Sab 12.08 12.59
9X 15.47 17.02
Source: Tam (c&s 4+, HSM)




Third position at stake

While Star Plus and Zee TV are currently out of reach for the ‘best of the rest‘, it leaves a lot of room for other channels to slug it out for third position.

The three channels in this turf would be Sony Entertainment Television (SET), Star One and Sahara One.

The momentum is clearly with Star One and today it is laying claim to being the number three GEC. It almost stayed cosistent at seven per cent till September before falling down to six per cent in October and November and increased its pie by one per cent in December.

However what has been spectacular is that the channel saw a phenomenal increase in the GRPs of the first two weeks of this year.

Kamath says, "We launched Dil Mil Gaye, which has touched a TRP of 2, Annu Ki Ho Gayi Wah Bhai Wah, Choona Hain Aasman, we are launching Pari Hoon Main in the next week, which kind of completes our week day prime time. In the week end we have launched Bol Baby Bol which again has a TRP of 2. We have tasted fair success with Chak De Funjabi. There are lots of vacant time bands in Star One which has not been programmed. There are couple of other shows which will make Star One as the big player in the space."

Relative channel share
Channel Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Star 36 36 36 39


Zee 29 29 32 32 30 29
Sony 14 15 14 11 11 11
Star One 7 7 7 6 6 7
Sahara 9 9 9 8 8 8
Sab 5 4 3 3 4 3
9X 0 0 0 0 2 4
Source: Tam (c&s 4+, HSM)

From a year-long look, the biggest downslide has been witnessed by SET of course. The times when it held the second position in the channel stakes are but a distant memory today.

Not for lack of trying though. It has launched a variety of new shows like Amber Dhara, Jhalak Dikhla Jaa 2, Khwahish and Kuchh Is Tara but none have really clicked. Even Ekta‘s famous K factor failed to spark any TRP magic. The network went heavy with movie acquisitions, changed the network packaging, but to little avail.

So much so that its GRPs in the first week of January 2008 came down from 90.46 to 77.17 in the second week of 2008, which is just 1.66 points ahead from Star One. If Sony doesn‘t arrest the slide, and soon, Star One could soon be the clear number three in the Hindi GEC space.

That brings us to the third player in the tier two category - Sahara One.

The channel has held steady even though it has seen its fair share of rise and fall in GRPs.

When reality ruled Star Plus, Zee TV, SET and Star One, this channel was not behind either. Sahara One opened its cards with Biggest Loser Jeetega. It then unveiled its second big reality property, Jhoom India, which ended its run last week.

Looking at the Week 1 and Week 2 data of 2008, we find that Sahara One‘s GRPs have remained consistent during weekdays.

9X gives an impressive start; cannibalises Sab

November also saw the launch of 9X. It started well with two per cent relative market share and jumped to four per cent in December.

If observed carefully. The channel which got directly effected by 9X was Set‘s sibling Sab. Sab‘s market share is down from five per cent in July to three per cent in December.

The GRPs for the first two weeks of January show that 9X has crossed the first hurdle and is now ahead of Sab.

Sab has been experimenting to establish its prime time slot since long. Presently it has Left Right Left and Jersey No 10 as its stable shows.

It is struggling to fill up its prime time with a variety of shows. In the process it also discontinued Sab Ka Bheja Fry, a comedy show which was launched targeting the male viewers.

A lot of activity can be predicted with the landscape getting crowded with new entrants.

"This will only increase the cost of production, carriage fees and placement. However the competition will help us grow. The GRPs will increase and advertising revenues will increase as more viewers will sample the shows," says Chakraborthy.

Whether up on the channel share scale or not, all channel programming teams agree on the need to present clutter breaking concepts to court viewers. That no channel is really walking the talk is another matter of course.

According to some media planners, the viewership from GECs has shifted to news channels and movie channels which means that an advertiser will get a better viewer profile on news and movie channels.

Still, there is experimentation going on. Let‘s us see which property clicks for which channel.

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