Sony is the new game changer
Posted: Sep 02, 2011 at 1537 hrs IST
With no major gains coming in for any channel except Sony, continuation of status quo is the right way to describe the current general entertainment scene. Star Plus continues to lead the GECs pack while Sony has raced ahead of Colors and Zee to claim the number 2 slot after several years. With only old fiction shows delivering decent numbers and new ones failing to charm viewers, most channels are struggling to retain their viewership share. However, Sony has improved its performance on the back of Kaun Banega Crorepati 5 and Bade Achhe Lagte Hain. Both the shows have made it to the top five list. While KBC opened with 5.2 TVR and averaged 4.5 for week 34 ending August 20, Bade Achche… rated 3.7. Others among the top five shows include Saathiya Saath Nibhana (4.8), Balika Vadhu (4.4) and Pavitra Rishta (4.3). Here is an overview of the GEC pecking order and performance.
Star Plus, GRPs 297
It's been a leader for the last 11 years and continues to be the leader even today, save minor aberrations here and there when a couple of times Zee and later Colors attempted to overtake it. But its leadership margin has gradually got eroded in the last four years. While earlier Star Plus enjoyed over a 200 or more GRP lead over its closest competitor, in the last two to three years it has had to make do with anywhere between a 50 to 100 GRP lead. The makeover last year with 'Rishta Wohi Soch Nayi' as its tagline took Star Plus to 400-Plus GRPs, but it didn't sustain the momentum over a long period. Industry analysts are of the view that the makeover was more of marketing noise, a kind of cosmetic change that most FMCG companies undertake to refresh their brand and please the consumer. One probable reason for the cosmetic change is that thematically Star Plus didn't really need to change. It is why the re-branding didn't promise much. As for its new thinking, it is not markedly visible in programming. The core content is all about hope, happiness and positivity. Since the soul is same, Star Plus has not come of the status quo. Its downtrend began post-Bidaai. None of its new shows have done really well this year, while some of the older shows like Sasural Genda Phool and Mann Ki Awaaz Pratigya have been on the decline. Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai and Saathiya Saath Nibhana are its major saving graces, while the weekend shows haven't delivered on the promise. Still, it is doing pretty well across prime-time, afternoon and other weekday and weekend slots, thanks to its healthy distribution and marketing punch which have ensured a strong revenue model for the channel. DTH platform also gives Star Plus an edge.
Sony, GRPs 245
Much before Star Plus and Zee's marketing/corporate re-branding exercise, Sony was the first major GEC to undergo an exhaustive corporate and programming brand makeover in May 2009. Unlike Star Plus and Zee, thematically Sony promised and delivered new content and direction. But it failed to resonate with viewers and Sony was forced to abandon all the shows quickly. But someone there realized that in the absence of strong fiction line-up, Sony's USP was CID and exploited it to the hilt by way of CID Classics during day parts and at early prime-time for over six to seven hours every day. The strategy worked in resurrecting Sony from its lowest weekly GRP share of 70 to 130 within six months. Since Sony was doing reasonably well on weekends, but had a weak weekday prime-time, it decided to service the 9 to 10 pm band with non-fiction shows like Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega and Indian Idol. The strategy of offering an alternative to fiction at prime time worked. With KBC's launch in October last year Sony jumped into the bigger league for some time, before falling once again. Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and later Entertainment Ke Liye…kept Sony around 170 GRP level and finally Bade Achhe Lagte Hain took it closer to 200-GRP mark. The fifth season of KBC has taken it to the next level, making it the second GEC after Star Plus in week 34. While some channels have remained where they were and others have struggled to sustain or fallen, Sony is the only channel which has grown in its GRP share over the last one year. However, since non-fiction shows cost a bomb, Sony's GRPs come at a huge cost. How and where the channel goes from here on will be very interesting to watch.
Colors, GRPs 232
It is almost where it was a year ago. It hits the lows and recovers but has been within the range - 230 to 270. That's because Colors has not been able to find one or two shows that could help it come out of the tight spot. Balika Vadhu and Uttaran deliver occasional spikes but they aren't enough to take it to another level. Rooted, realistic and edgy, it addresses issues within the family space. That's its USP but it is proving to be an impediment as well. Any attempt to come out of it proves counterproductive and every attempt to stick and experiment within its core DNA delivers limited result. Colors' old shows are still working for it while the new ones struggling. Multiple seasons of non-fiction and reality shows like Khatron Ke Khiladi, India's Got Talent and Bigg Boss are tiring out. The channel relies heavily on movies for extra GRPs but films are no substitute for original content and healthy business model. It has good presence in HSM market, particularly central India. It is pretty strong at prime-time but it needs shows for an upward journey. However, how healthy is its balance sheet is anybody's guess.
Zee TV, GRPs 194
Confusion confounded is the best way to describe the current state of Zee, according to industry veterans. Over the last one year its programming has been on a downhill journey. A year or two ago, it had a good bouquet of prime-time shows — Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo, Jhansi Ki Rani, Aap Ki Antara, Pavitra Rishta and Chhoti Bahu. But it seems to have lost the plot and groping in confusion to rediscover the past magic. With its focus on traditional values, the core theme of its programming has been crisis in the life of a young married woman. It began with Piya Ka Ghar and Sindoor and was taken to the next level with Saath Phere, Betiyaan and Maayka. These shows resurrected Zee from its worst lows and the next crop of shows kept the momentum going. But the last one year has been quite disappointing. Had it not been for Pavitra Rishta, Zee would have fallen further. Its recent brand refresh was more of a corporate and marketing exercise. Zee's new brand slogan, 'Umeed Se Saje Zindagi' is not getting reflected in its content. Or at least the concepts don't seem to support the slogan. From a recent high of 130-plus prime time GRPs, Zee has fallen to 90. However, it enjoys the finest distribution across the HSM market, with strong penetration in the interiors, particularly in Maharashtra. Like Star Plus, it is also a strong revenue earner, probably the best, according to industry veterans.
SAB TV, GRPs 128
Its makeover came with a clear promise and direction three years ago. Since then SAB has made a place for itself in the GEC space with distinct brand identity. It crossed 100 GRP mark in mid-2010 and has remained around 120 levels, with occasional intermittent highs to 150 levels. However, like other GECs SAB has failed to grow this year. Its only star performer is Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma which is more than three years old and looks tired. Most of its other performing shows like FIR, Sajan Re Jhoot Mat Bolo and Lapataganj look overstretched. Its new offering Ammaji Ki Gali has been a non-starter. Mrs. Tendulkar is the only show that is relatively new and reasonably successful. However, despite its problems with distribution and reach besides lesser programming budget, SAB is a fairly successful channel in terms of revenue. It's been eyeing 200 GRPs for quite some time but that seems to be a long journey.
Imagine TV, GRPs 76
It has recovered from its recent lows of 60 GRPs. It gets its spikes from the non-fiction Swayamvar show. Most of its current shows, some of which are recent launches, are delivering between 0.6 to 1.2 TVR. Over the next four months Imagine will launch one show every month. But industry analysts don't seem to have a clear idea about the channel's brand promise and action plan that will make Imagine a player to reckon with in the GEC space. A year ago, it seemed the channel was trying to go the Colors way. However, there is no clarity on that yet and maybe the forthcoming shows might throw some light on the channel's brand identity and performance.
Star One, GRPs 32
Launched as a youth brand in 2004, it lost the plot when it started becoming a me-too GE channel a few years down the line. Sometime later the youth promise was restored but ratings didn't come. A year ago, it was refreshed again to target 18-25 female viewers, but the change of focus didn't yield much result. Currently the channel is under brand reconstruction and market sources believe that it will be re-launched with a new identity a few months down the line.