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Star Plus holds firm, Network grip on Hindi Entertainment strengthens further

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"We launched Star One with the purpose of wooing those audiences who showed this tendency to break away from Star Plus. Star Plus in the Hindi Speaking Markets and Sun Network in the South are far ahead of competition. It's five years and counting. We are interested in keeping this global aberration going. We have been mutating and want to mutate further."

Thus spoke Star India COO Sameer Nair on the year gone by. And what a year it has been for Indian television's lead network. Nair's star continues to rise. Why? Because KBC 2 has expanded Star Plus' weekday dominance over the Hindi entertainment space to include the weekends as well?

Not quite! Fact is that KBC's dominance of the weekend prime time was seen as a dead cert so the debate was always over the ratings that the show would settle at rather than anything else. That KBC 2 has settled at an average of 9.3 TVRs (HSM) these past few weeks would have stood out in stark relief if the ratings that Star Plus' top shows were garnering a year ago had been taken into account.

And there is just no getting away from the hard truth that on an average, the top programmes on Star Plus have lost TVRs by 10-12 per cent when compared to last year. What this seems to indicate is that the four-year fatigue cycle that Nair has expounded on before more than once is beginning to kick in, albeit a year "late" and with a very pertinent difference.

Rank
Channel
Name of show
TVR
1
Star Plus
Kyunkii Saas...
12.6
2
Star Plus
Kahanii Ghar...
11.2
3
Star Plus
Kasautii...
9.6
4
Star Plus
KBC2
9.3
5
Star Plus
Kahiin To Hoga
9.0
6
Star Plus
Kavyanjali
8.7
7
Star Plus
Sai Baba
8.2
8
Star Plus
Millii
7.1
9
Star Plus
Kumkum
6.2
10
Star Plus
Bhabhi
5.4
Source: Tam.

Period: 13 November - 10 December 2005

Market: HSM, TG: CS 4+

While one may well argue that there is fatigue factor at play, it has hit number two channel Sony Entertainment the hardest in terms of channel share erosion (-22 per cent) and Zee second (-8 per cent) over the last year. There have been some positives though in the performance of new acquisition SAB TV. Post the channel's November relaunch, it has been on the steady upward curve showing a net growth of 12 per cent.

In absolute terms, however, it is Star Utsav that that has lost the most (-29 per cent). But Utsav not being on anyone's radar in any serious sense kind of makes it's ups or downs of not much consequence in the larger scheme of things.

What is really important to note though is that as a channel, Star Plus has not lost in any way in terms of its overall share in the Hindi entertainment space. Data that Tam India provided for 2005 has shows that while Star Plus has essentially held steady (-1 per cent erosion), it is its hip n' happening sister channel Star One that really did the star turn in 2005 which saw its channel share leap a phenomenal 263 per cent to a chunky 2.61.

The other success was the re-branded and repositioned Sahara One which grew 23 per cent. Says Media e2e's Atul Phadnis: "Both tried hard to do new things and also new ways to lure eyeballs. The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, Nach Baliye and Woh Rehne Wali Mehlon Ki, were deviations from earlier programming formats. And they succeeded in generating stickiness, roping in TRPs, which brought in the big bucks, thereby helping the GEC category."

Genre
Q1 share
Q2 share
Q3 share
Q4 share
Growth (%)

Q4 over Q1
GEC channel
31.42
30.82
31.96
31.91
1.559516232
Other channels
68.58
69.18
68.04
68.09
-0.714494022
Any channel
100
100
100
100
0
Source: Tam Peoplemeter System

Market: HSM, TG: CS 4+

Period: 1 January 2005 to 17 December 2005
Channel
Q1 share
Q2 share
Q3 share
Q4 share
Growth (%)

Q4 over Q1
SAB TV
0.74
0.59
0.55
0.83
12
Sahara One
1.95
1.72
2.48
2.39
23
Sony
5.6
5.31
5.26
4.36
-22
Star One
0.72
1.08
2.07
2.61
263
Star Plus
17.23
16.87
16.7
17.07
-1
Star Utsav
0.69
0.61
0.5
0.49
-29
Zee TV
4.49
4.65
4.41
4.15
-8
Others
68.58
69.18
68.04
68.09
-1
Any channel
100
100
100
100
0
Source: Tam Peoplemeter System

Market: HSM, TG: CS 4+

Period: 1 January 2005 to 17 December 2005

The key points that come though from a close look at the data and our own extrapolations are as follows:

  • Though Star Plus top shows have dropped on the TRP scale, the channel share has dropped by only 1 per cent due to the expansion of the performing time bands to the weekend, thanks to KBC 2 and its positive cascading effect on the weekend line up on the channel.
  • Star One and Sahara One are the two channels which have truly gained at the cost of other channels, including the leaders.
  • Sony's numbers have gone down due to the non performance of its top programmes as well as the fact that it has had no steady pull property and has had to rely on the likes of Fame Gurukul and Indian Idol to fall back on to provide it some spikes
  • As we go into 2006, Sony is expected to increase its share on the back of Indian Idol 2.
  • The overall share of Hindi mass channel would likely reduce a bit due to the heavy duty cricket series involving Pakistan coming up next month.

Coming back to the bigger picture Star network story, what Nair has managed is quite remarkable really. Even if (a big if that) one were to assume that Star Plus would lose out in terms of prime time rates by 10 per cent or so (at least as far as the powerful media players like MindShare and Madison are concerned), it will be more than covered by the success that Star One is enjoying at present. And speaking of Star One, it is worth pointing out here that it was an Indian entrepreneur Markand Adhikari who first saw the value in a comedy proposition while creating SAB TV. That he didn't have the financial and marketing muscle required to take on the biggies is why he ultimately sold out his channel, and not due to any mismatch in his content offering.

What all this boils down to is that while Star Plus' grip on the Hindi entertainment audience has held steady, Star One has served to further increase the dominant position that Hindi entertainment's lead network enjoys.

And that is why Star India will continue to be Rupert Murdoch's money minting machine underwriting his ventures in the rest of Asia.

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