In the last five weeks, with the inception of KBC 2 and other weekend programmes, STAR Plus has distanced itself from the other channels on weekends as well taking a leadership position. According to media experts, the most important development here is the increase in weekend viewership.
What ratings suggest
KBC 2’s launch was above expectations at a 19.75 TVR, according to data from TAM Media Research for the CS 4+ in the Hindi speaking market. Despite the drop in ratings in subsequent episodes, media experts stated that the numbers were still high for weekends.
The first three weeks the show has moved in double digits, the lowest being 10.33 (August 7) and highest barring the launch episode, being 15.73 (August 12). In the fourth week, the show slid further giving the channel 9.1 and 8.89 on August 27 and August 28. However, in the consequent two episodes, (September 2 and 3) it was back at an 11 plus. In all, KBC 2 is still finding its stability point.
A look at the other numbers in the weekends – ‘Baa, Bahoo Aur Baby’ that follows ‘KBC 2’ on all days of the weekends, too, is five weeks old now. ‘Baa…’ opened to a 11.09, but since then saw loss and now gives the channel a consistent 5 plus.
The Friday 10.30 pm slot sees ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’, which along with ‘Kasautii Zindagi Kay’, and ‘Kahiin To Hoga’, has been extended to Fridays. Incidentally, the Friday episodes of these three shows have given some of the lowest ratings. For instance, ‘Kyunki…’, which moves anywhere between 11+ and 13+ on weekdays, is down to single digit ratings on Fridays. If the Friday trend alone is seen, Kyunki…’s numbers have dropped from the 10 to 9 and 8, finally giving a 7.67 on September 2, 2005. Even though the numbers are low for ‘Kyunki…’, for weekends, they are high.
Saturday 10.30 pm saw the launch of ‘Kaboom, Duniya Hila De’ on August 27, 2005. The show opened to 2.98, but has grown to 4.22 in the following week. ‘Shanno Ki Shaadi’, which launched in the ‘KBC 2’ week itself in the Sunday 10.30 pm slot, made a good opening at 4.74, but dropped and is currently at 2.7.
A look at the competitive landscape shows that as is the case on weekdays, where there is a substantial distance between STAR Plus and any other channel, weekends too are changing in Plus’ favour.
Until week 30, Plus is warring with channels like Sony Entertainment Television and Zee TV and movie channels like Zee Cinema for the numero uno slot. However, from week 31 to 35, the channel is grossing a 30 plus channel share. In comparison, the highest that Sony has seen in this period is in week 33, with a 11.37 per cent.
Another interesting point to be noted here is that no channel has lost its share with the coming of ‘KBC 2’ and the other new shows. Looking at the numbers of Hindi general entertainment channels (GEC) – at an average, the cumulative share of all channels increased to over 51 per cent in weeks 31 to 35, where in the period earlier (week 1 to 30), at an average the cumulative claim of Hindi GEC was 37 per cent.
What industry leaders say
Giving a broader picture, Shashi Sinha, President, Lodestar Media, said, “The big thing is that they have opened the weekend slots. The audience on weekends today are far higher and total viewership has gone up dramatically. Traditionally, weekends weren’t delivering. GEC put acquired properties or one-off shows for weekends and they were paying off but not with consistency.”
“What STAR has done with their initiatives is challenge this and it is paying off,” he said, adding, “True that KBC 2 is in a zigzag graph right now, but you mustn’t forget that even on a lower day, the number is far higher than any other property on any channel on weekends.”
Sandip Tarkas, CEO, Media Direction, said, “STAR’s weekend focus is paying off. We were expecting KBC 2 to settle on high single digits, so that is as per expectations.”
“Since its weekend shares have trebled in the five weeks since the new line-up, I am sure STAR Plus has reasons for cheer,” said Ravi Kiran, CEO, Starcom, Asia. “I would say, KBC 2 in particular is settling down around the ratings we had expected. The variation is normal. If you ignore the first week, which was the effect of sustained marketing, the rating variation is not high. I would say the show will stabilise around a rating of 10 with a margin of 10-15 per cent over the next four to six weeks. If it drops below that number, we should start getting worried.”
Agreeing and adding further, Lakshmi Narasimhan, National Director, CTG, GroupM, remarked, “There is no doubt that STAR weekend is looking up, but the challenge that STAR faces is to keep these numbers once KBC is over.”
Media experts see the current ratings of the other new shows also in a positive light. “Compare it with what you have on other channels – what else gives you a 4 plus on Saturday 10.30 or a 5 plus that ‘Baa…’ is consistently delivering,” observed Tarkas.
“I don’t think we had too much expectation from any of the other shows individually. But their role in maintaining the weekend share is important. KBC 2 by itself would not be able to do that. That said, the sharp drop in the ratings of these other shows on a modest start is not happy news,” informed Ravi Kiran.
Throwing more light on the extended dailies losing numbers on Fridays, Narasimhan said, “Weekends do still throw lesser numbers than weekdays. This could be a phenomenon of that.”
Tarkas brought a different point here, saying, “The focus on weekends can mean that STAR Plus can lose audience somewhere else. There is still a lot of wait and watch involved right now about how beneficial the new line-up is for STAR India.”
Ravi Kiran offered a broader response, “In any case, the real audience interest in many of these long running shows has dropped significantly over the last year or so, regardless of what the ratings show.”
Do the experts see weekends become what weekdays have for Hindi GEC?
According to Sinha, “It already has. Nonetheless, you can’t overlook initiatives from other channels. The competition is very stiff, but it does appear that STAR is on the winning spree.”
“Personally, I am really surprised that the new shows on Zee are not showing better numbers on TAM ratings. Many of them – ‘Sindoor’, ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’, ‘Tumhari Disha’, ‘Sarrkar’, ‘Time Bomb’ re-run – keep coming up repeatedly in direct consumer contacts. There might be a surprise around the corner in that area,” said Ravi Kiran.
Tarkas offered, “There is ‘Indian Idol 2’ coming now, Zee has done some major revamping. It is too early to say that.”
As for Narasimhan, “They have done it once so why not. But as I said earlier, all the other shows have to deliver and keep the audience. So far it looks like, KBC 2 is the reason audience is coming on the channel. When the other shows become a reason why a viewer is tuning in to STAR Plus on the weekend, the channel has a real winner.”
Bringing another point here, both Tarkas and Sinha pointed out that weekends were the delivering slot once when most shows were put on weekends and so were more investments. However, with channels focussing on weekdays, the trend changed. “But it still shows that you will see results, week on week, wherever you put efforts,” remarked Sinha.
Every player is putting more efforts everyday and as for the results – five weeks of ratings are down and there is still a long way to go. But STAR India sure has reasons to be happy right now.