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STAR sacrifices ‘Kahaani’ TVRs to cut to size ‘Ye Meri…’

27-May-2004
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STAR sacrifices ‘Kahaani’ TVRs to cut to size ‘Ye Meri…’

To win some, you lose some. That appears to be the case with STAR India and ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki’. The network has taken the 10.00 pm Sony competition ‘Ye Meri Life Hai’ seriously and in preparation pulled off ‘Kahaani…’s afternoon repeats a week before ‘Ye…’s launch. Result: ‘Kahaani…’ loses cumulative afternoon plus primetime TVRs. “TVR is not the objective here. It is to stop the viewer from leaving the channel at 10.00 pm,” states Deepak Segal, Senior VP, Content and Communication, STAR India.

Interestingly, both channels seem to have separate rules of functioning. Where Sony believes ‘Ye…’ is for an audience looking for alternative viewing options and aims at distinctly a younger audience, STAR professes that the competition is for the same eyeballs. STAR Plus stopped its afternoon repeats of ‘Kahaani…’ beginning April 26, exactly a week before ‘Ye…’s launch on May 3. The replacement brought in is the travel show ‘Yaatra’.

In terms of numbers, this doesn’t turn out to be a profitable move. If the preceding six weeks of ‘Kahaani…’ for the female target C&S ABC 15+ in the Hindi-speaking markets is considered, ‘Kahaani…’ grossed weekly averages ranging from 5.94 to 5.02. When compared with what ‘Yaatra’ is yielding, the figures definitely show a fall. In the three weeks of ‘Yaatra’, the given TG throws TVRs playing between 2.53 to 2.71.

Are these viewers coming back in the evenings? Ratings don’t seem to suggest that. Week 17, which is the final week of ‘Kahaani…’ repeats, gives the programme an average weekly TVR of 18.83 for the given TG and market. The following week when afternoons are pulled off, the evening average TVR reduces to 18.21. Week 19, which brings in ‘Ye…’ gives ‘Kahaani…’ an average weekly TVR of 18.32 and going forward in week 20, which is also election week, the TVR settles at 17.22.

As stated, TVRs is not the channel’s objective. Speaking about the rationale behind the strategy, Segal remarks, “When the competition plans something, I have to counter it. I don’t want my viewer to catch me on non-primetime and I want to ensure that the dominance of the slot is maintained and hence we pulled off ‘Kahaani…’ from the afternoon.”

But why do the primetime numbers remain the same? Shailja Kejriwal, Creative Director, STAR India replies, “The duplicate audience for primetime ‘Kahaani…’ with afternoon is very low, around 15 per cent. Hence, there wouldn’t be a surge in primetime ratings anyway. The idea makes sense also as it adds viewing options to the afternoon.”

Bottomline – STAR’s evening ratings remain untouched, even if it is at the cost of some numbers of the afternoon slot. But has the strategy taken its toll on ‘Ye…’. How does Sony view this move? “Television is a competitive business,” says Sunil Lulla, EVP and Business Head, SET India, “Even if they have pulled off the repeats, there is no increase in their evening numbers.”

Speaking more about ‘Ye…’, he says, “Sony is determined to build its strategy of being a distinctive viewing alternative. In terms of programming, promotions and marketing, ‘Ye…’ is a vivid execution of this strategy. We are more than aware it takes time to change habits, which is why our efforts are focussed at a specific audience, to make them early adopters and then migrate the others.”

Television is indeed a competitive business and strategies along with content make all the difference. As per Segal, ‘Kahaani…’ repeats will be brought back once ‘Ye…’s ratings settle down. Sony displayed its own strategic abilities when ‘Jassi…’ went well into ‘Kahaani…’ and ‘Ye…’ into ‘Kyunki…’s time on May 3. With these instances, it is clear that both channels try to go one up the other in terms of strategies. ‘Ye…’ is two weeks down in terms of ratings and the numbers so far depend on how one would want to interpret them. But as Sony officials say, it is too early to pass a judgement.

Coming back to the point of competitive business – 10.00 pm slot, with two ex-STAR brains, Tarun Katial, EVP, Programming and Response, SET, and Gursheel Walia, Creative Director, Optimystix, working on the other side now, indicate a channel war and we believe an interesting one at that.

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