STAR’s free-to-air channel, Utsav, which offers only reruns, has generated its first report card. A channel, dedicated exclusively for reruns is an unusual concept and speaking in terms of numbers, the strategy appears to be paying off for the network.
Let’s begin with TAM Media Research numbers. For the target C&S 4+ of the Hindi speaking markets, Utsav opens at weekly channel share of 0.81 – the lowest among the mass entertainment channels. However, in the following week, the number increases to 1.04, taking the channel above SAB TV, which makes 0.96 in that week. For Utsav, the number further increases to 1.18. In the week ending on June 26, Sahara stands at 1.88 and SAB at 1.14.
One interesting aspect about the channel is that STAR concentrated all marketing efforts only in the hinterland India and not in the metros. Explaining more on the marketing, Ajay Vidyasagar, Head, Marketing, STAR India, says, “We covered 22 key states. The activities were divided in four key components – print, on-ground, outdoors and cable.”
This burst of the campaign was on for three weeks, from the launch to June end. Branded Utsav vans were taken in various cities and small towns to create awareness about the channel. Another substantial part of the campaign was seen on cable channels. “We worked very closely with cable operators for this. One reason of course, was the distribution but the more importantly, we injected slots on cable channels where Utsav-related shows were placed. For cities like Indore, Meerut and Nasik, such activities make all the difference,” says Vidyasagar. The second campaign burst is scheduled to begin in early August.
As for the channel, Vidyasagar explains that they are happy with the opening numbers. But it’s worth a look what does the industry think.
What Media Planners say?
Utsav was a product that media professionals like Divya Gupta, President, The MediaEdge supported from the start. “We deal with media houses as partners and our clients did support this venture from day one,” she says. Speaking more on what she feels about the performance of the channel, Gupta remarks, “The fact that the channel is delivering is not surprising. Also, I think given STAR Network penetration, the ratings will improve in the coming weeks.”
Punitha Arumugam, CEO, Madison Media (West) accepts her observations. However, Arumugam views the ratings in a different light. Says she, “It is lower than what we expected but yes, going forward, we are sure that the ratings will pick up. But what should be taken into consideration here is the market wise analysis.”
Bringing forth the point that STAR’s marketing was focussed in the smaller markets, she says, “If you compare numbers, largely markets like MP and Rajasthan have really delivered for the channel in comparison to a metro market.”
Looking at some more numbers here, the three-week average channel shares indicate that markets that have delivered for Utsav are Gujarat (0.1 to 1 mn), PHCHP (1 mn-plus), MP (0.1 to 1 mn) and Rajasthan. However, Mumbai and Calcutta too throw good numbers. In comparison to that, markets like UP (1 to 1 mn), MP (1 mn-plus), Maharashtra, PHCHP (1 to 1 mn) and Gujurat (1 mn-plus) give the channel average shares not crossing the one mark. However, if the three-week trends are observed, the shares in most cases have registered a weekly increase.
“Given the analysis at the market level, Utsav is delivering as per STAR’s plans,” adds Arumugam. But what do these figures mean to a planner? “Going forward, Utsav will prove to be a good option for a second line channel to use in our media plans.”
Without ruling out the fact that Utsav could be a replacement to the third-tier general entertainment channels, Gupta says, “The decision to use Utsav as against these channels would be based on opportunity costs.”
Ratings and planners suggest that Utsav is not luring any new audience to the general entertainment category. In that sense, the competition is between the mass entertainment channels and the rerun channel, and who stands to lose would be clear in three week’s time.
What do the competitors say?
Where planners have more or less made up their minds on what they can expect from the channel, competition is in another mindset. “It is too early to say anything at all,” says Sahara spokesperson, “These are just three-week figures. The channel has to retain these numbers and grow before it can be seen as a threat of any kind.”
As for SAB TV, Kanta Advani, President, Sales, says, “For that matter any new channel that comes in throws up some competition. The advertiser’s money is not stretchable. So the channel is into competition and competes with all other channels, because the same ad money switches across places. But in terms of content, we have a clear differentiator in the comedy niche that we offer. So on that line, Utsav does not compete with us.”