English entertainment channels – movies and general entertainment – have managed quite a steady run in the first six months of the year. The genre per se hasn’t seen an increase in total share, but that doesn’t take the fun out of the game.
In the case of movies, STAR Movies continues to rule, but the end of the first half sees HBO snapping at STAR’s heels. In the case of English general entertainment channels, AXN is the clear leader.
It might be one of the most niche segments, but English entertainment has never been devoid of action. English movies, and now even general entertainment channels like STAR World, continually make noise around international acquisitions to lure the viewers’ attention. The English entertainment segment can be easily divided into two sections – English movies and English general entertainment.
English movies – STAR Movies hogs the screen
The main English movie channels in India are STAR Movies, HBO, Zee Studio and Hallmark. As is perhaps the case with all movie channels, the genre is extremely title driven and this can be seen in the increasing and decreasing gaps between the current top player, STAR Movies, and HBO.
In the entire year, the channel hasn’t dropped below a 40 per cent relative channel share. However, from week 9 to week 20, STAR has stayed above the 50-per cent mark. Needless to say, in consequent weeks, HBO has seen some amount of fall, the gap between the two channels widening in this period.
The gap is the widest in week 12, when HBO hit one of its lowest figures and STAR takes its highest ever. From week 1 to this period, for HBO, the graph has been quite a negative one (42 per cent in week 1 to 28 per cent in week 12).
Hereafter, HBO moves upwards. Regaining shares, it climbs back into play in the 32-36 per cent area, and come week 21, the picture changes some more. HBO grosses 43 per cent relative channel share here, the only week when it beats STAR. From this point onwards, STAR comes back in the 43- 46 per cent area, with HBO, too, largely moving about the 40-per cent mark.
STAR can be called the number one player in the first half of 2005, with HBO as its closest competitor. Zee Studio remains mostly unaffected with the highs and lows of these channels. Until week 7, Zee has been climbing up to take a 20 per cent share, but there on it drops back to the 14-per cent region, throwing a level graph throughout the rest of the six months. Hallmark barely has any numbers, hardly taking more than 1 per cent of the English movies market.
Experts have different views to offer on this segment. Pradeep Iyengar, VP, Carat Media, said, “The English movies genre as such is a very niche segment, and numbers hardly play a role in decisions about these channels. What matters more is what the channel is offering, how much sense it makes in the media plan and the budget.”
Offering a more specific picture, he further said, “In 2005, STAR has done well, but if you look at the numbers, as the year proceeds, the difference is hardly anything between STAR and HBO. This further recedes the role that numbers play in picking a channel here.”
Nitasha Narad, Investment Director, CTG, elaborated, “The movie genre is very title driven and that makes all the difference. That said, there is no denying that STAR has performed well in the year. They have some good titles, there is lower clutter and hence, offers a better viewing experience.”
She pointed out that on other counts like marketing, both channels were equally aggressive, zeroing the battle completely down to content. Referring to channels like Zee Studio, Narad said that on parameters of cost efficiency, value adds and frequency, they did make sense in a media plan.
English general entertainment – AXN rules the chart
Unlike the movie genre, where the No 1 does change, as far as English general entertainment channel (GEC) is concerned, there is only one clear No 1 player – AXN. The channel has thrown a steady performance in the year. A few drops and highs notwithstanding, AXN has regularly claimed between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of the English entertainment space.
In a similar manner and at a considerable distance is STAR World at No 2. Again the channel has thrown a steady graph, mostly claiming between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of the English GEC segment. The picture for STAR World should see changes, however, with programmes like Desperate Housewives coming into the scene. Zee Café garners over 10 per cent of the market.
Speaking on what works for AXN, Narad said, “The content definitely and especially, the fact that they have had good content for a long time now. STAR World has spruced up its content only in the recent past. They have had a show or two, but not enough to keep the eyeballs coming.”
She pointed out that efforts like Koffee with Karan and India Child Genius have paid off for the channel. New initiatives have seen substantial marketing as well, and this should lead to some changes on the ratings count. In the case of Zee Café, Narad said that the content had been good, but packaging and promotions had taken a back seat.