The ratings battle on Indian television is a strange one. Where figures put Sony Entertainment Television as the number two general entertainment channel, a closer look could make that statement arguable. With the exception of the 9.00 to 10.00 pm slot, if ratings for different dayparts are observed, both the channels are close competitors and no one channel can be declared a winner. Two women called Jassi and Kkusum have swung the pendulum in Sony’s favour.
Ratings through the day
Dividing weekdays 7.00 am to midnight in six different dayparts, lets look at some weekly TVRs of Hindi speaking markets’ target CS 4 +, for a better insight in both channels’ performance. Considering, the first daypart, 7.00 am to 12.00 pm. in the year 2004, the 15-week average figures, put Sony higher than Zee at 0.21 and 0.18 for both channels respectively.
The second daypart of 12 pm to 4 pm puts Sony ahead of Zee, again by a marginal difference, giving Sony a 0.62 and Zee a 0.59. The daypart 4 pm to 7 pm, however puts Zee in lead, giving it a 0.78 as against Sony’s 0.24. The lead is maintained even in the following daypart, 7.00 to 9.00 pm, where Zee has 0.71 and Sony, 0.6.
It is the primetime’s 9 pm to 10 pm hour, where Sony leads with a strong margin. It gets a 5.2 in comparison to Zee’s 1.33. Following which again, the gap between both the channels is narrowed – Sony gets a 0.73 TVR and Zee a 0.63.
Media experts dissect the ratings
But the one-hour ratings turn the game. Citing some more numbers, Madan Mohan Mohapatra, Media Director, The Media Edge explains, “If you look at average top 10 programme ratings across channels, Sony is ahead of Zee. The average primetime TVR on C&S 4+ across North, West and East markets gives Star Plus 10.97 points, Sony, a 3.81 and Zee, 1.34. Also advertisers buy FCTs in the selected top programmes not entire days. As a planner I would be interested in the programmes which deliver my TG and if the bulk of programmes are on Sony, then that is the preferred choice.”
Adding more numbers to this, Amol Dighe, Investment Director, Mindshare Fulcrum says, “You need to take into account the macro scenario. Sony gives you 160 GRPs for the top 50 episodes in a month as compared to the 120 that Zee gives you.”
However, if the episodically top fifty programmes across the week, of both channels are observed for the period March 10, 2004 to April 10, 2004, Sony has only Kkusum and Jassi… in its top 40 positions. Even in the last ten, six are taken by these programmes, effectively bringing only 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm as watched slots. On the other hand, if Zee is observed, the top fifty positions have programmes inclusive of different time bands across the day.
“The objective of a media plan is to get reach and get it fast,” elucidates Dighe, “Sony, currently gives you a faster reach built up than Zee.”
But in the current stage of Indian television, when programming is advanced to a level where channels also speak about morning, afternoon and late night audience, don’t the all day numbers make a difference? “They do. As planners, we look at six mass channels instead of three i.e. Sony primetime and afternoon are two different options for us and based on cost efficiency we come up with the programme/daypart mix and hence the channel mix. Sony becomes an optimum choice for me until I get into cost consideration,” explains Mohapatra.
Explaining more on this aspect he says, “Better investment means higher delivery at lower cost. In cases where Zee gives that, vis-à-vis Sony, it definitely becomes a better option.” Planners indicate that for any mass brand that advertises through the year, Zee TV makes innate sense as compared to Sony. However, the moment there is a particular TG skew in the brand, Sony comes to fore. So how right is it to call Sony the distinct No.2 general entertainment channel? “On a broad sense, Sony is No. 2 but there are dayparts where the channel is lagging behind. In that sense, I won’t call it a ‘clear’ No. 2,” replies Mohapatra.
“I will not call it a strong No. 2 like Star is a strong No. 1. Sony has to take huge strides to reach there. But the gap between Sony and Zee is narrow. I believe with a few programming changes, Zee can catch up with Sony,” observes Dighe.
Zee plans to perk up 9 –10 p.m. band
As far as programming is concerned both Zee and Sony are immersed in activities. On what is Zee’s take on this, Sunil Khanna, President, Zee TV remarks, “Giving hierarchies, boils down to numbers and data interpretation. But I can tell you that on-ground reality can be quite different. In our exercises when we ask people, who are not aware of these numbers, Zee scores far better than other channels.”
Speaking more about this, he further adds, “As part of our distribution exercise, every quarter we do an exhaustive study about consumer preferences. Since this is an in-house study I can’t reveal exact data but I can tell you that viewers regard Zee as a must carry channel and are willing to pay for it. That is reflective of viewership but whether you take Astitva or Zee Cine awards, ratings don’t reflect this. That said, we realise there is a need to regain lost ground and 9.00 to 10.oo pm is one time band where we have taken a beat. But we are working on changing that.” Sony Entertainment Television was, however, not available for comments.
KBC turned the tables in the favour of Star Plus…the show was placed in the 9 to 10 p.m. slot. Jassi and Kkusum together are busy generating TRPs for Sony. The ball is in Zee’s court now to come up with a show in the same slot. After all, this is the slot, where channel drivers are launched and deciding battles are fought