The Hindi general entertainment channel is the biggest of the pie when it comes to both ratings and advertising revenues. For six years now, the trends in the genre have seen Star Plus as the number one channel, while Zee TV beat Sony in the last year to become a clear and strong number two player.
The year 2007 has also been a crucial year for the genre as, on the one hand, changes in consumer preferences were accentuating, while on the other TAM Media Research had induced a new panel that led to correction or change in the numbers of various channels. Perhaps because the channel holds the largest share in the Hindi GEC space, the new TAM panel has had the biggest impact on Star Plus. So much so that the loss that the channel was seeing in its numbers has become accentuated and the gap with Zee TV has closed in the last two months.
Star Plus had a big beginning with KBC-SRK but post the show which occasionally delivered a 7 plus and maintained a 6 plus average, there has been nothing to let Star hold on to its ‘untouchable’ position. The usual scorers ‘Kyunki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’, ‘Kasautii Zindagi Kay’ and ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki’ have dropped. ‘Kyunki…’ which was delivering a steady 8 plus and 9 plus in the new TAM panel, has in recent weeks giving 6 plus. The story is the same with ‘Kahaani…’ and ‘Kasautii…’ is even lower at 4 plus and 5 plus.
The new 9.00 PM shows too have not given much to the channel. In all, the last two months -- March and April -- have been bad months for Star Plus with the gap with Zee TV narrowing.
If one looks at the Zee graph (see below), even though the channel has grown in 2007, the numbers have not dramatically increased from what it was delivering. With shows like Saregama Challenge delivering, the channel comes across as a strong number two player. In the new scenario, for an optimistic Zee supporter, Star Plus has finally and for the first time come within striking distance.
Sony Entertainment Television, on the other hand, has become a number three player with some distance from Zee TV. The beginning of the year saw the channel face competition from Sahara One to be at the fourth spot in some weeks. In March and April as well Sony has been at the number three position and the distance from Sahara One is a very small one. With the launch of Indian Idol, Sony has got a very slight boost in the last three weeks. Where the show takes the channel should be an interesting watch.
In the first two months of 2007, there was a clear number five in Star One while SAB was the lowest ranker in the Hindi GEC but the equation here is changing as well. Cricket on SAB has managed to push the channel closer to and then ahead of Star One and the fight between the two intensified in March and April 2007, where there have been weeks when SAB has overtaken Star One.
Media professionals are of the opinion that much of these trends were really expected and are leading to redefinition of the Hindi GEC genre. Lodestar Universal’s Nandini Dias said, “Star Plus has been on a decline for the last 18 months and Zee TV has been growing in the last 10 months -- the numbers may not be dramatic but that really is the trend. It is not that we are seeing something new. What however would be interesting to watch out for is how the equations change going forward with this flurry of new shows across the channels.”
Motivator’s Business Director Rajneesh Chaturvedi agrees that Hindi GEC is a tough place for players to be in. He is also of the opinion that the fall in Star Plus’ numbers is not really a surprise but there is still time before the Hindi GEC genre has a new report card.
The story of Hindi GEC surely is no longer as simple as it was six years ago and the twists and turns only reiterate that the Indian media scene is getting a tad more complicated every day. And that in itself is cause for cheer for all the forthcoming Hindi GEC channels.