INX Media has had a very good run with its music channel 9XM that continues its No. 1 positioning in the music channels genre this week as well, and hence, for the last three weeks in a row. The Hindi general entertainment channel 9X has so far got the numbers only of its launch week. Data shows that the channel already has a 20 per cent reach, but in terms of channel share, it has opened lower compared to the likes of SAB and Star Utsav. TAM Media Research data shows that for the C&S 4+ in the Hindi speaking markets, both in the all day data for the entire week, and the for weekdays primetime data, the channel has got better numbers only to Bindass.
At an all day level for the entire week, 9X has a share of 0.63. In comparison, Star Utsav is 0.86, SAB is 0.9, Star One is 1.64, Sahara One is 2, Sony is 2.8, Zee TV is 7.93 and Star Plus is 10.09. The recently launched youth channel Bindass has a share of 0.49. If only the weekday primetime is seen, 9X has a share of 0.48, while Star Utsav has 0.56, SAB has 0.88, Sony is 1.81, Star One is 1.95, Sahara One is 2.42, Zee TV is 13.57 and Star Plus is 15.77.
INX Media officials are “delighted” with the numbers and are touting it to be the “best opening numbers for a C&S channel in the history of Indian television”. Indrani Mukerjea, CEO, INX Media, said, “Things are going as per our plans – from the day we started, the reach numbers have gone up each day – right from November 12 to the close of the week, and will continue to do so.”
Karthik Laxminarayan, COO, Madison Media Infinity, voices the section of the industry that is happy with these numbers. He said, “They are very close to the second tier numbers in the first week itself and hence, these are very promising numbers. They have created enough buzz for people to tune in to the channel, and from here it is really up to the content of the channel.”
Prasanth Kumar, National Director, CTG, GroupM, on the other hand, is of the opinion that these are not encouraging numbers. He said, “9X is one of the channels that had launched with a high decibel impact plan. The programming line also had a good cast. However, the numbers haven’t given it an impact-at-launch. It shows that the channel certainly didn’t come as a surprise to viewers or clients and agencies.”
Concentrate on Content & Connectivity
At a programme level, of the three shows in the primetime slot of 9X – ‘Kahe Na Kahe’, ‘Jiya Jale’ and ‘Mere Apne’ – ‘Mere Apne’ has delivered the highest with an average rating of 0.2. Siddharth Basu’s first shot at fiction – ‘Jiya Jale’ – has had an average rating of 0.14, while Ekta Kapoor’s ‘Kahe na Kahe’ is at an average rating of 0.11. The channel’s comedy band that has a different show on each day of the week at 10.30 pm has ratings varying from 0.09 to 0.15.
Mukerjea is clear that the channel is not in any hurry to make any changes based on just a week’s data. She said, “We are confident that each of our shows is a unique property, and we don’t have knee jerk reactions to such early numbers.”
Harish Shriyan, Managing Partner, OMD, who like Lakshminarayan and Kumar is quick to state that these are only one week’s data, said, “It is difficult to find trends in just a week’s numbers – we should wait another three weeks for that. However, there are many new channels in the pipeline as well and though everyone says that they would be different, it really is not so easy to be different. 9X’s numbers appear low in comparison to the marketing and the brand promise that was seen, but you don’t know how it changes from here.”
Interestingly, the highest deliverer on the channel is the show ‘Dhamaal Express’, which was a three-hour event on the weekend. The show saw no mass marketing, and delivered a rating of 0.45. The next best is the telecast of the movie ‘Baghban’, which got a rating of 0.34.
Mukerjea said, “That speaks volumes for the numbers of early viewers of the channel, because we promoted ‘Dhamaal Express’ only through on-air promos on 9X and PR. We decided to concentrate our promotion of ‘Dhamaal Express’ on the channel because we were confident on the initial numbers. ‘Dhamaal Express’ is just one of the many good events we have lined up. And the viewers sampling the channel through four days, tuned in for the show.”
Divya Radhakrishnan, Vice-President, TME, stated here, “These numbers are too small and too early to give any verdict as such. However, we should see what the channel’s content strategy is. Ideally one has seen a good property delivering the numbers, typically a non-fiction property that has a definite lifetime, and that the viewers can enjoy and stay on even if they come on the show a week later. Then from this property, the channel moves the audience to its long-running shows. For a soap to work, you really need audience from day one. 9X has launched key shows from day one, and there is still work that the channel has to do on its distribution and awareness.”
Speaking on the connectivity of the channel, Mukerjea said, “Yes, we are happy with the kind of connectivity our team has put together – it’s at never-before levels for a newly launched channel. We have been tracking this internally, and the figures are extremely encouraging – in total connectivity, we are comparable with other GECs even now.”
Hindi GEC on the fast track
Life in the Hindi GEC domain is changing fast. Where at one point, a channel had time to settle down, today a newcomer has to make its mark, and an established player has to strengthen itself further before another channel launches, and eats into the pie. The industry leaders are eagerly looking for trends that would indicate the viewer’s response to this multiplication in choice.
The likes of Karthik Lakshminarayan are expecting 9X to grow. “It would at least be a leader in the second tier channels,” he said. Prasanth Kumar said that it would be interesting to see how soon a newcomer like 9X could create characters that people would identify with and talk about. Harish Shriyan is looking out to see whether the new generation of mass channels would mean different leaders in different markets and different TGs, while Divya Radhakrishnan wants to see how the slot wise performance will vary in times to come.
Perhaps the only thing that they all agree on is that advertisers would look at deploying investments even more intelligently with such an increase in choices.