Asianet faced a setback in programme ratings in late 2002 when some serials were stopped from being aired. However, by July 2003, Asianet started on a comeback trail and by August they claim to have come back to the number one slot and then consolidated that position by December 2003. Currently, there is a stiff competition between Surya and Asianet with the number one position in a state of fluctuation.
According to the past six weeks, TAM data (28/12/03 to 7/02/04), the top 30 programmes are equally divided at 15 between Asianet and Surya.
Asianet’s top two programs are Sthree Oru Santhwanam and Megham, which replaced the earlier Swapnam (also a chart topper). The average TVR of Sthree Oru Santhwanam according to the past six weeks TAM ratings in the CS 4+ category for Kerala market is 9.63. Megham, the new serial, which was aired from January, has an average TVR of 9.92. In the CS Female ABC 15+ yrs category the TVR for the past six weeks shows Sthree Oru Santhwanam with an average of 12.34, Megham (since January) with the highest average of 15.65 and Mangalyam also shows a good average of 12.8. Surya TV’s top program Sthree Janmam has an average TVR of 11.1 for the 4+yrs category in the total market and an average TVR of 15.01 in the CS Female ABC 15+ yrs category, according to the past six weeks TAM data.
Interestingly, while Asianet leads in the Prime Time, if we look at the entire day Surya is ahead. A quick look at average channel share and TVR for the last six weeks, Asianet has average TVR of 6.22, and channel share of 26.71 in Prime Time, while for Surya the same is 5.99 and 25.73 respectively. However, when it comes to entire day, Surya leads with a TVR of 2.34 and a channel share of 24.7. Asianet has an average TVR of 2.13, and channel share of 22.53 (week 1-6, 2004, CS 4+, total Kerala market).
Speaking on programming variety Reghu Ramachandran, Assistant GM, Asianet, says, “Our New year show, the Arabian Thriller, has set a record of sorts with the highest TRPS in the range of 20.47 in the market of Kerela. We have pepped up our programming with a lot of variety. Our programming basket has elements like game shows, events, and comedy apart from the regular serials. Our new serial Megham has done exceptionally well and Sthree has been a longstanding success, as was Swapnam. Manglayam is also a favourite with our women viewers.”
Speaking on Asianet’s improved performance, K Satyanarayana, Media Director, R K Swamy BBDO, states, “It is a clear indication that people go for programs and not channels. Viewership is typically program driven and any channel can rise to the top by offering good programs viewers want.”
Mohan Nair, COO, Asianet, adds, “The Kerala market is different from other markets in the south. Asianet as a brand has the first mover advantage and as such competition has been good for the market since it has helped expand the primetime slots. Now the afternoon slot is also gaining popularity and so is the late night slot, which caters to the gulf countries due to the time lag advantage. Viewership is program driven and some of our top programs have maintained consistently good ratings. The growth of the market also has been about 7-8%.”
Expressing her opinion on Asianet’s comeback Sudha Natrajan, Executive Vice President and National Head Interactions, Media Division, Lintas, says, “I think it is highly commendable on Asianet's part to have made a comeback, and not take competition lying down. Also in terms of flexibility and client/brand focus this is the preferred channel to partner in Kerala, as it does well as far as numbers also go.”
Reacting to Asianet’s comeback, Clement, Head Programming, Surya TV, Sun network, remarks, “In the past four weeks, Asianet has been performing well but we are not perturbed. We have significant strengths like a strong movie bank which houses 70% of the best Malayalam movies and we have always fared better in movie ratings. In the Rest of Kerela amidst the top thirty programmes, our programmes constitute 23. Our top serial Sthree Janmam is the longest in Malayalam, which has completed 490 episodes and will run on for another 100 episodes.”
Surya, of course, has no plans to take it lying down. Divulges Clement, “As a counter strategy we are coming up with a lot of new programming innovations. Surya is a forward thinking channel with future trends in mind. We are coming up with an innovative programming mix of which a game show, a horror serial will form a part. We are also launching a new entertainment based Malayalam channel in two months. This channel will focus on the youth and the content will be a mix of entertainment and film based programs and will also have frequent news bulletins.”
It will be interesting to watch how Surya TV will arm itself to counter the competition. Will the new Malayalam channel from Sun’s stable provide the same winning formula that worked for Tamilnadu?