Sony weekends are attracting attention yet again. From its ‘weekend soaps’, which are the Friday to Saturday format shows, the group has cut down soaps to just Friday and Saturday, carving a movie slot on Sunday at 8.00 pm.
The changed strategy and the mixed result
The change took place in two phases. The first began on April 15, 2004 when ‘Kkoi Dil Mein Hai’ was taken off from Sunday 9 pm and placed on Saturday 10 pm. It led to Sunday movie being preponed to 9 pm. The second step was put in action beginning May, when erstwhile ‘Kab Kaisey Kahaan’, (earlier ‘Kya Hadsaa Kya Haqeeqat’) and ‘Kkehna Hai Kuch Mujhko’ were taken off from the Sunday slots. The Sunday movie slot has now shifted from 9 pm to 8 pm.
Till week 15, when Sony follows the Friday to Saturday format, the weekend channel-share graph is an erratic one giving occasional highs of 15.21 and 11.87 per cent. The lowest recorded in this period are 7.88 and 7.86 in week 7 and week 13 respectively.
A noteworthy factor here is that Fridays and Saturdays have constantly delivered better than Sundays, a fact totally reversed by Sony’s new weekend strategy.
Come week 16, with the exception of one dip, the Sunday figures have constantly grown. However, Fridays and Saturdays generate lower numbers. Movies have allowed the Sunday slot generate high channel-shares like 10.4, 12.07 and 17.46 – some of the best it has seen in 2004. On May 23, Sony suspended its movie telecast to air IIFA awards, which grossed a TVR of 3.63, giving the channel a larger share of 20.18. This only gets better in week 23 when Baghban gets a TVR of 6.75 giving the channel a massive 35.17 per cent share.
Fridays and Saturdays, on the other hand don’t appear to be so lucky giving Sony the highest of 10 per cent in week 18. The figures largely play between 8.72 and 7.71 per cent in this period.
The mixed reactions
Where the results are mixed ones, so are the industry reactions. Bashab Dutta Choudhary, General Manager, Madison Media, Delhi, expresses, “Weekend viewership has traditionally been strong for movies. In that sense, the channel is attracting audience, which is different from their regular soaps. This also allows them to get more people to sample the channel and then try and hook them on.”
A point that Abbas Muni, Investment Director, MindShare, GroupM, echoes, “To bring in a movie is a good idea. Putting it on 8 pm is also wise, as by 9 pm, the competition only widens on Sundays. This way you can hook the viewers earlier, if it’s a title they are interested in.” A factor that could even backfire, according to Muni, “Numbers depend on titles, which means you should have a good library, otherwise its three hours of programming wasted, that too on a slot that has untapped viewer potential.”
Explaining that he says, “If you look at weekend numbers, where figures do drop for mass channels, the overall television viewership does not drop. Channels haven’t just found the right programming to hold on to these eyeballs.”
And how do they view the drop in the Friday and Saturday viewership? “I think this is something we should look at in a longer term,” Choudhary explains, “STAR’s dominance on television is not something that can be easily changed. Sony has tried to lure the typical STAR viewer but it has not worked. They have new shows that are in line with the profile that Sony aims to create for itself, as an alternative channel.”
She explains that at a stage where the channel is trying to differentiate, there will be substantial experimenting and various such attempts seen, which are a part of the larger plan. Muni chips in, “The overall TRP increase is a positive sign but a drop in ratings is never good. The channel must have chalked its stage-wise action. Only the numbers have to come in, in the longer run.”
On the surface, it would seem that Sony has sacrificed its Friday-Saturday ratings to spruce up its Sunday. However, industry sources claim that there is a lot changing on the channel still.