The programming scene seems to be picking up for English entertainment, with Star World launching a number of Americanised shows such as ‘American Idol’, ‘Apprentice’, ‘News Radio’, ‘The Casino’, ‘The Simple Life’, ‘Wild Card’, ‘Manhunt-Search for the Hottest Male’, and ‘My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé’. The channel is making a firm attempt to move towards the latest in American programming for Indian audiences. In other words, Indian audiences would now have the luxury of viewing American shows and special events either live or almost at the same time as in the US.
Meanwhile, Zee English trudges on with the friendly ‘Will and Grace’, ‘Six Feet Under’, ‘Jack and Jill’, ‘MAD TV’ and ‘Witch Blade’. AXN looks buoyant with cutting edge programming such as ‘Maximum Exposure’ and ‘The Amazing Race’.
Programming initiatives on these channels may be mushrooming this season but ratings still don’t spell much. ‘Jack and Jill’ has garnered (15 plus individuals, SEC AB, 6 metros) in the last four weeks. It has scored 0.02 in the first week, 0 in the second week, 0.02 in the third week and 0.01 in the fourth week. With the same parameters in mind, ‘Apprentice’ on Star World bags 0 in the first week, 0.03 in the second week, 0.01 in the third week and 0.0 9 in the fourth week. ‘My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé’ got 0 in the first week, 0.02 in the second week, 0.03 in the third week and 0 in the fourth week.
AXN has fared no better with ‘Maximum Exposure’ scoring 0.04 in the first week, 0.4 in the second week, 0.01 in the third week and 0.01 in the fourth week. ‘The Amazing Race’ garners 0.02 in the first week, 0 in the second week, 0 in the third week and 0.01 in the fourth week.
In spite of the negligible numbers, planners and buyers continue to bank on English entertainment. Says Sandip Tarkas, CEO, OMD, “Media Planning is all about segregated and streamlined buying, what route you take to reach a particular segment of audience. These channels cater to the English speaking, urban audience well, and they suffer from significantly less clutter. Naturally, the ad moolah on these channels is only growing with upmarket brands buying spots on them. On their part, English entertainment channels are pepping themselves up with significant programming efforts such as British comedy shows, reality programming, etc. There is a whole new world for advertisers.”
Madan Mahopatra, Media Director, McCann Erickson, asserts that not all buying is number driven; most are worked on the basis of strategy as well. Also bunch-buys are in, with a whole plethora being bought from one particular network. “Since we are looking for segmented buys, English entertainment is becoming more relevant in the media plan. There is this realisation that a strategic media plan is not just about great GRPs but also about reaching out to the right audience. You need to take different routes in order to reach out to your TG. English entertainment channels such as Zee English and Star World face real competition from movie channels more than anything else. The educated urban youth prefer sifting through channels like HBO and Star World, and there has to be sufficient drive in order to coax him to the channel,” he said.
But Mahopatra also feels that English entertainment channels are “re-inventing themselves in terms of content, to the extent of bringing Indianised shows in western formats. The space is definitely growing, and it spins sufficient interest on the part of the planner.”
Manas Mishra, Associate Vice-President, Initiative, believes that television is becoming more fragmented by the day, and you have to make buys on a plethora of channels in order to reach out to your TG. He said, “Gone are the days when you invested in mainline Hindi channels and your work was done. Today, all individuals have their own distinct taste and preference, which is why niche channels are as big a bet as any other. The clue is strategic buying, and you can’t get the same by just chasing GRPs. The English entertainment scene is occupying a lot more interest today from advertisers because of the channels re-inventing themselves in terms of programming. The space is set to grow even further.”
Media buying is indeed coming out of the GRP preoccupation; it’s not sheer numbers that determine the game anymore. The mantra seems to be to venture into a plethora of options -- niche as well as mass -- and the lack of clutter does seem to be working in favour of niche channels. The new age advertiser wants to buy space, but doesn’t want to be “a part of the wall paper anymore”.