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Writer: Anushree Madan Mohan - Wednesday, Feb 04,2004 7:02 AM

Follow the leader?

Who leads the rat race in the quest for ad monies? We decided to do some number crunching of our own to determine the leader of the pack. Across all Hindi-speaking markets, in the age group of C&S 4+ individuals, we took a microscopic look at the channel shares of music and mass entertainment players, news and movie channels, in the period December 24 – January 24. The results, as they say, speak for themselves.

In the mass entertainment category, Star Plus leads the pack with an average channel share of 20.75, Sony follows with 5.87 (the Jassi magic not withstanding), Zee TV fares an average of 4.01, Sahara Manoranjan is at 2.27 and Sab TV languishes at 0.94. Sony’s channel share shows a deteriorating trend. It started with 6.8 in December, moved on to 5.77 and 5.66 in January, finally culminating to 5.34 by the end of the month. Nearly all of the other mass entertainment channels show an upward trend.

Says Shripad Kulkarni, CEO, Carat South and West, “Sony needs to exploit Jassi still further. A strong channel driver does have its payoffs but there have to be sustained efforts towards building a stronghold on the slots in and around Jassi as well. You can’t possibly do with just one show that wins the attention of the audiences. They can definitely build other strong properties. As far as Sony’s packaging and presentation is concerned, it’s up to the mark”

Amongst news channels, Aaj Tak clearly rules the roost. Aaj Tak started out in December with a channel share of 1.68 dominating all the other players and continued its run in January 2004 with steady shares of 1.63, 1.46 and 1.81. Aaj Tak derives an average of 1.63, NDTV India follows with 0.82, Star News has 0.75, Zee News is at 0.71, Sahara Samay gets 0.43 while DD News is at the bottom of the ladder with an average channel share of 0.69.

Kulkarni gives Aaj Tak the clean chit and states, “What works in Aaj Tak’s favor is the overall positioning and the content driven tone of the channel. Their kind of content and the kind of slant seen, whether it’s regional, national or international news, it finds a strong base in upper middle class and middle class households within the Hindi-speaking belt. The content matches the needs of this segment and it contributes greatly in terms of numbers. On the flip side, the competition is trying its best to catch up.”

Music? Well, MTV is the clear winner with an average channel share of 0.48, Channel V comes second with 0.38, Zee Music follows with 0.36, and B4U Music is at 0.25. It’s interesting to note that Channel V started off in December with a channel share of 0.42 and wound up at 0.34 by the end of January 2004. While for the same period, MTV started out with 0.32 in December and ended up with 0.46 in the fourth week of January. The difference is marginal, but could signify what is coming in the times ahead.

Amongst Hindi movie channels, Zee Cinema leads with an average channel share of 4.71, Star Gold comes second with 3.89, MAX follows with a share of 3.72 and B4U Movies is at 0.43. It must be noted that all the players have shown a decline in January, as compared to the figures in December. At the fag end of December, Zee Cinema had a channel share of 5.2, Star Gold 4.72, MAX, 4.02 and B4U registered a channel share of 0.49. In the fourth week of January, Zee Cinema got a channel share of 3.76, MAX was at 3.25, Star Gold registered 3.12 and B4U Moves obtained a share of 0.43. Could this imply a dwindling movie audience?

Kulkarni doesn’t quite agree. He shrugs it off saying, “You could attribute it to absolutely anything. Perhaps, it’s because December signifies the holiday season and viewers are more likely to grab a film. Again, viewership for movie channels is title driven, and maybe, there were a number of eye-catching titles during the month of December. Either way, I can only speculate on the possibilities. But I think that it would be far-fetched to presume that movie audiences are dwindling.”

In almost all of the cases, the leader steers clear of the pack and the difference in the channel shares is sizeable. The battle seems to be much closer between number two and three in most cases. It also explodes the myth that you are bound to work better if you belong to a particular network – the audience seems far more discerning than the credit they get.

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