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Sony’s steady rise... But can it stay ahead?

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Sony’s steady rise... But can it stay ahead?

As they say, all eyes are on Sony Entertainment Television right now. The reason is not just the channel’s number two position in a week but the fact that the channel has shown steady growth in the last few weeks, and for a change the credit is not going to just one tent-pole property and Sony’s old deliverers such as ‘CID’ and ‘Crime Patrol’ but to its fiction offering ‘Bade Acche Lagte Hai’ and to some extent even ‘Saas Bina Sasural’.

Sony Entertainment Television’s EVP and Business Head Sneha Rajani, who had taken charge of the company six months back, is not entirely surprised with the channel’s performance so far. In a conversation with exchange4media, she divulged, “The first thing that I turned attention to was fiction. Soon after that, we launched ‘Bade...’, and I am glad it worked out. I am not surprised that the show has worked out so well, given the energy from marketing and promotion to the content, that has gone in the show.”

‘Bade Acche Lagte Hai’ has been consistently delivering 4-5 TVR for the target group C&S 4+ in the Hindi speaking markets. Sony Entertainment has not seen such high numbers from a fiction offering in the last few years. The show comes from Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms.

Rajani is quick to point out that another fiction offering doing well for the channel is ‘Saas Bina Sasural’ that has been delivering a comfortable 2-3 TVR for the channel.

Given its absolute fiction focus, the channel is also looking forward to its forthcoming offering ‘Kuch Toh Log Kahenge’, which launches on October 3, 2011. This also meant that while once Sony spoke of a younger TG and the male audience being in its focus areas too, now the housewife alone was at the focal point of the channel.

But this was not the first time Sony was making that claim. Rajani replied, “I agree, but we are working on content that we hope the audience today can relate to, and hence come back to the channel for.”

She admits that post KBC the channel is likely to see a dip in its numbers, but she added, “That said, there are many silent heroes who are contributing to the channel -- whether it is ‘CID’ and ‘Crime Patrol’ or the recently launched ‘Prayaschit’ that has given us a 2 plus rating again. Any GE channel right now has a similar mix of delivering shows. A few are in a high TVR range and then many others together contribute to the overall numbers.”

While Rajani is confident on the way ahead, industry leaders are getting used to the fact that leadership positions change often now.

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Star Plus has been “bucking the trend” for a long time now, but the channel had seen a brief period when Colors had taken over the Hindi GE space. Zee TV has seen its share of highs and lows too.

Nandini Dias, COO – Lodestar UM observed, “I don’t think there is anyone who can claim to be in any one leadership position for a long time. Channels do well even if two programmes on that channel have done well but this can change. And this is true not just for GE space but other genres as well. Perhaps the only thing that was showing great steadiness was Sun TV but that also looks to change given the expected changes in the distribution pattern there.”

Speaking specifically on Sony, Dias said, “Sony is doing, and will do, well as long as its anchor shows are delivering. In that too, KBC would not last forever and they will have to keep the grip on ‘Bade Acche Lagte Hai’ for that show to continue showing these numbers.”

Sony’s performance is putting pressure on other channels right now, especially because according to Dias in the current way of working, channels are dealing with agencies on a monthly basis than the once annual plans. She said, “Partly because the channels don’t know what to expect across the year and partly given the increase in offerings around us, there no longer are any annual plans. Often it is barely a month that is planned.”

The big question stands – can Sony continue with its growing numbers? The channel is confident it would but if it does not, at least the media agency fraternity would not be surprised.

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