The channels in the English entertainment portfolio of STAR India Group have chalked out an aggressive strategy for 2010 to consolidate their position. There has been a fair amount of senior level reshuffling in STAR India in the last couple of months. As part of the management rejig, Keertan Adyanthaya was moved from his earlier role as Executive Vice-President and General Manager, Star Plus, to a new role where he is responsible for heading the English channels of STAR India. In turn, Sanjay Gupta, COO, STAR India, took over Adyanthaya's responsibilities.
Adyanthaya’s key mandate has been to regain the foothold that Star World had in the past and the resulting programming change was part of that mandate. The new programming line-up started in January 2010 itself, wherein the channel has started a Monday to Thursday band as well as a weekend band. As part of the new programming line-up, one show will be telecast throughout the week as opposed to the earlier format, where one episode was aired once a week. This will take care of Star World’s programming line-up till June 2010.
The logic behind the programming shift was based on consumer behaviour. The local audience was used to watching new episodes of a particular show each day. The audience found it a little difficult to remember what happened in a show’s previous episode as the next episode was aired after a week.
It’s been just two weeks since this line-up was introduced, and according to Adyanthaya the new strategy had been getting a lot of positive feedback. He added, “There are a couple of challenges as well. The first one is that there is only a specific amount of bandwidth available (650 MHz), which can carry only 200-odd channels, so all the channels tend to get pushed into the end of the spectrum. Another disadvantage is that the carriage quality is bad.”
Adyanthaya further pointed out, “In this genre, TVRs do not matter too much because if you look at the way the panel is structured, there is not too much representation for SEC A, upmarket audiences across seven metros, which is our core target audience.” Hence, media planners estimate the English language channels’ performance by using TGI (Target Group Index).
As far as Star World is concerned, the main job is to consolidate the gains.
In the movies space, there are output deals that happen between the channels and the studios. Star Movies has a deal with Fox and Disney and some other independent titles as well.
Adyanthaya noted, “The way ahead for Star Movies is to maintain the gap with the closest competitor and, in fact, widen the gap even further. Another area of focus is to acquire smaller titles and increase the movie database.” To attract eyeballs, the channel has lined up a festival, where a particular type/ genre of movie is showcased everyday. For instance, there is the ‘Action Movie Month’. “This builds a certain type of predictability, so viewers come to the channel every day at a certain time to check, which movie is being shown,” Adyanthaya said.
The English channels contribute around 20-22 per cent of STAR India’s ad sales revenues annually. Adyanthaya wants to maintain this pace till the end of the year as well.
Since the core target audience of these channels is digitally inclined as well, a good 25-30 per cent of the total marketing budget is spent on digital. The channel is trying to come up with innovative ways to market the show on the digital platform as well.