Since the inclusion of rural data into the BARC ratings, there have been a few changes in the industry matrix. In the Hindi GEC ratings all the channels have seen a large growth in ratings and FTA channels now are gaining more ground. In the first three weeks of the rural ratings, while most of the channels have seen a rise in their ratings, one channel - Sony Entertainment Television (Sony TV), the flagship channels of Sony Pictures Network (erstwhile MSM), still seems to be struggling. The channel seems once again in trouble as it posted declines since the release of rural+urban ratings for the two weeks since the first rural ratings emerged.
According to BARC data HSM (U+R) NCCS All 4+ Individuals, a week prior (week 40) to the release of the rural data Sony TV had managed to finally climb to No.5 spot from No.6 spot the week before and scored ratings of 176 million. However, once the rural+urban ratings were released Sony TV ended up slipping once again to the bottom at No.8 with ratings of 371 million. With rural ratings most of the FTA channels got a higher viewership and ended up being pushed to the top spots. For instance Zee Anmol rose suddenly to No.3 spot with ratings of 609 million, Star Utsav was at No.5 spot with 500 million and even DD National rose to No.7 spot with ratings of 381 million.
The following week 42 Sony TV’s ratings declined in its ratings of 348 million from 371 million in week 41. The channel however managed to hold on to No.8 spot. However, it was not the only channel that saw declines during the week. Colors slipped to No.3 spot in week 42 with a decline of ratings to 650 million from 708 million in week 41. Star Utsav too slipped to No. 7 position as its ratings dipped to 473 million in week 42 from 500 million from week 41. Sab TV declined as well with this week’s ratings dropping to 327 million in week 42 from 380 million in week 41. Rishtey at No.10 saw a marginal decline in ratings to 268 million in week 42 from 270 million in week 41.
This, however, changed in current week 43 as most of the channels which declined a week earlier saw their ratings now rise. However, Sony TV was the only one among them that saw its ratings continue to decline during this week. Sony TV slipped to No.9 spot from No.8 spot last week with ratings declining to 333 million from 348 million last week. Apart from Sony TV, DD National saw a large decline on the account of no India vs South Africa series matches being played during the week.
It has been more than a year since the channel had slipped from being in the top 4 spots, apart from the occasional movie which it premiered of PK on TV. Even DD National is ahead of Sony TV despite the large loss in ratings this week. While Sony TV had some hopes of revival as it climbed to No.5 spot prior to week 41, with rural ratings coming in it seems to slipping further down.
Drop in ratings and position in the Hindi GEC chart is expected to have an impact on the ad rates of the channel. The reduction in ad rates has an impact on the revenues of the channel. Sony TV had faced a similar crisis in March last year when it ratings started to drop week after week. The channel had seen a 5-10% revenue drop during this period. While it has just been three weeks since the release of the rural data it is not known whether there has been an impact on its ad rates. According to a senior media planner the ratings of the channel have failed to rise significantly and bring the channel up and will have seen an impact on the revenues of the channel. He added that while some of the prime time shows such as CID and Crime Patrol will not get affected, the other shows have definitely seen an impact in their ad rates. We were unable to get a response from Sony TV till the time of the publishing of the article.
However, in an interview last month N.P. Singh, CEO, SPN when questioned about this had admitted the flagship is currently going through a difficult phase and continues to be his number one priority in addition to growing the network. “Some elements of the strategy that we were perusing at that time had not worked. I had realized that the strategy that we were trying to follow was a more inclusive strategy and some elements of that did not work. It was important for us to reorient ourselves back to the core positioning of the channel, which is what we are now trying to do with the brand new team. I am calling it a brand new team, but a lot of them have had experience with us in the past and they understand the brand, DNA and viewers of the channel very well. They are sharply focused on the new positioning of the channel and the new content being developed right now, which you will see in the next two months or so is in line with core positioning of the channel. I am more confident that it will work now. In the next 6 months, you will see a fairly big surge in the viewership of the channel. That is on the back of the development slate that we have on both—fiction and non-fiction side, the movies that we have and plus the events that are in the pipeline,” said Singh.
With regards to the rural ratings he had said that their content would continue to be a bit urban skewed. He said, “As far as Sony TV is concerned, it has always had a little bit of an urban skew and moving away from that will not make sense for us. So to that extent, it is a challenge. We will continue to try and retain our little bit of urban skew and at the same time try to give content to the viewers which is also accessible for LC1 towns.”
It remains to be seen what action Sony TV will take to get their channel back on track to the top position in the ratings chart.