The first report card of Sony’s ‘big one’ for 2004 is here. Based on its strategy of counter-programming, the latest primetime offering of the channel, ‘Ye Meri Life Hai’ positioned at 10 pm, is pitted against one of the strongest properties on Indian television, ‘Kahaani Ghar-Ghar Ki’.
Looking at broad figures first for Hindi speaking markets, target CS4+, Ye… gets an opening figure of 2.33. Going forward, the second episode increased to 2.55, decreasing to 2.15 on day three, further going down to 2.05 on May 6, 2004.
“For Sony, these are very good opening numbers,” states Divya Radhakrishnan, Head (TATA AoR), The Mediaedge, “For a media plan today, the selection is clear. You have STAR and then you choose between other channels for frequency. So keeping STAR out of the picture, the highest we see on television is a 5 or 6 plus. Also for Sony, with only repeats playing on this slot, it hardly had any eyeballs. Considering all this, I think these are positive figures.”
But for people who look at the picture holistically, this is not the case.
Srivathsa Iyengar, Associate Media Director, Carat observes, “For an answer to Kahaani… these numbers really are no great shakes. The show is pitted against an average 15 plus programme. It has to look stronger than this to survive.”
An important aspect to bear in mind about Ye… is that this is the first noteworthy attempt in the last three years on this slot. “We are desperately looking for competition!” expresses Deepak Segal, Sr VP Content and Communication, STAR India, “The recent figures we got doesn’t indicate any kind of a negative impact for our programme. We have a dedicated audience and we are very true to them.”
And what does Sony feel about these numbers. “Very encouraging,” declares Tarun Katial, EVP, Programming and Response, SET India, “We expected this kind of ratings for the initial stage. Ye.. is up against habits formed over the last three and half years. To make a start at this slot isn’t easy. Prior to this, there were hardly any numbers here. To add to these broad numbers, even the trends we see in different markets and TGs are good.”
Different markets: different ratings
If some of the Hindi speaking markets are observed separately, Mumbai records the highest four-day average figure of 4.5. The second is Orissa at 3.41, followed by Delhi at 3.08. As the numbers keep decreasing, the markets at the lower positions comprise mainly the smaller towns and mini-metros. Giving her perception on this, Radhakrishnan elucidates, “Even from the look and feel of the show, it appears to be metro-focussed. I think going forward, this is where we will see the programme gaining more numbers.”
An aspect that Iyengar agrees with, “It is an evolved concept, which would have worked just fine for a Hindi STAR World. Ratings in conjunction with story line indicate that it is only the big cities that will throw numbers. But given that Sony aims at catering to a larger audience, I think the show should have had a more mass appeal.”
Katial however presents a different picture. Says he, “The metros lap up new shows faster but it is the mini-metros that actually stick around even if they take their time in moving in to the property. Also, Ye… is a Mumbai based show. Despite that, I would say figures of Maharashtra, Gujarat, MP and UP are good. The increase in these markets over the week is a positive sign.”
For the mentioned market and TG, where Mumbai and Delhi have shown high numbers, Orissa, UP 1mn plus and MP 1mn plus are markets where the show has picked up over the week. Orissa opened at 2.45 and increased to 5.57 on day four. UP increased to a 2.3 from a 1.22 and MP got a 2.17 for 1.66. As per Katial, the show has also brought in new viewers. He says, “Jassi… too had brought in 5 per cent new viewers in the first week itself. In that sense, we are bringing in newer audience to the channel, which is good for the category on the whole.”
Not a point competition agrees with, “In the end of it all, the audiences for these shows remain the same. So I am not sure about a new viewer concept. What is for certain is that we are battling for the same eyeballs,” Segal comments.
Will the metro-focussed look restrict numbers?
“If you compare the appeal of a Devi with Jassi, you’ll know the difference,” explains Radhakrishnan speaking more in terms of the content, “Even in its Friday slot, Devi manages a 3 or 4 plus. Jassi also targets a broader audience but doesn’t go beyond a 5 or a 6 plus. I think in that sense, even Ye… will not grow beyond such numbers.”
“It is too metro-centric. These aspirations are something that only the metro audience will relate to. I don’t see it shaking STAR at all. It doesn’t look like a winner in the long run,” says Iyengar.
And as for competition, “We have shown them there is an audience here,” states Segal, “Now let them put their best together and try and get it. Despite the marketing and hype, obviously right now, their best is not good enough.”
“We have ensured that people know that after years, now there is an alternative at the 10 pm band. Unlike earlier, they have a choice. We must give the show at least three months to see how the scene on Indian television changes,” concludes Katial.
For once, indeed, a channel has brought in a programme at the 10 p.m slot. against the might of Kahaani.... The show on one side might be metro-centric, but on the other hand, it is the story of a middle class girl with high aspirations. Will she be able to handle the rich strong hold of Star Plus at 10 p.m. slot or not, as Katial puts it, would be clear in a few months time, for the job on hand is not easy.