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Strong content, understanding market pulse buoy Star Plus' ratings

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Strong content, understanding market pulse buoy Star Plus' ratings

Star Plus has registered a steady rise in ratings in the last four weeks and has consistently been placed as the No. 1 channel amongst Hindi GECs, as per ratings data sourced from TAM subscribers.

In Week 16 of 2014 (April 13 to 19), Star Plus’ ratings rose to 790 million GVTs. It was almost double that of runner-up Zee TV, which had recorded 473 million GVTs in the same week. From that week onwards, Star Plus has attained a constant stability with the rating hovering in the range of 650 million GVTs to 700 million GVTs.

As per the latest data from sourced from TAM subscribers, in Week 26 of 2014 (June 22 to 28), the ratings of Star Plus slid marginally to 660 million GVTs (from 661 million GVTs the previous week), while the relative share was at slip 27.26 per cent. But that failed to dislodge the channel from its numero uno spot.

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, Chairman Posterscope and psLive – Asia Pacific remarked, “It is a competitive market and the relative ranking or ratings of channels keep varying from time to time depending on market conditions, the content on their channels and so on. So, every channel is obviously trying to doing their best to get on to the No. 1 position, and time to time the No. 1 position keeps varying. At the moment, I think they (Star Plus) are doing quite well.”

Star Plus has managed to hold its ground even during major sports events such as the Indian Premier League and the ongoing FIFA World Cup. Commenting on this, Gaurav Banerjee, General Manager, Star Plus said, “If you compare, in previous year’s IPL, there were some weeks where IPL was ahead and some weeks where we were ahead. I think this is the first year where for all seven weeks of the tournament we were ahead. This is all because of how good our storytelling has become and how strong our characters are.”

Giving a marketer’s perspective, Chandru Kalro, COO, TTK Prestige remarked, “I think that IPL fever has died down even among diehard fans. The match-fixing scandals have made people a little cynical. Star Plus has a very loyal female audience and I don’t expect IPL or the FIFA World Cup to dent the audience of the channel.” Echoing Kalro’s views, Bhasin said that though the final stages of the FIFA World Cup will be aired during prime time in India, he doesn’t believe there will be a significant impact on Star Plus’ ratings.

Content has played a major role in Star Plus’ success. According to Mayank Shah, Assistant Marketing Manager, Parle Products, “They (Star Plus) have been able to deliver good quality content and have really been able to understand the pulse of the market. Other channels have not really been able to deliver good quality content and this has increased the gap between the No. 1 and No. 2 channels. Star Plus has been able to package their content very well in a way that others have not been able to do so. According to me, these are the two major reasons that differentiate Star Plus from the other channels.”

On an average, six of the top 10 shows in the last 8-9 months belong to Star Plus, as per ratings data. Banerjee claimed that shows such as ‘Mahabharat’, ‘Yeh Hai Mohabatein’ and other new shows placed in the 11pm time slot have managed to draw a large number of young viewers. He further said, “Our landmark shows continue to be strong. ‘Diya Aur Baati Hum’ has been the top rated show in the country for the past two to two-anda-half years, while ‘Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai’ continues to be among the top 5 shows in the country for the last five years. Thus, we have heritage shows such as ‘Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai’, which continue to be very strong, and we have strong new shows that we have launched in the last 9-10 months.”

With strong performance on the TRP ratings scale comes the hike in advertising rates. Bhasin felt that in general, television ad rates in India are not very highly priced and added that the market has a great self-adjusting mechanism so that no channel can afford to overprice itself.

Shah said, “Marketers will look at Star Plus only if it is efficient. They have increased their rates, but those rates have to be justified. For example, let’s say a channel’s viewership has grown by 10 per cent, if the ad rate is increased by 10 per cent, then it is okay. But you cannot increase it by say 20-30 per cent if your viewership had increased by only 10 per cent. Then it becomes less efficient and the moment that happens, marketers will shift to other channels.”

Bhasin remarked that rates are a function of negotiation. “It depends upon what the volume you’re buying, what is the scale of your purchase, which client you are buying for, and so on. When you say rate, it is not the card rate. The card rate may be high, but you may be able to get a special deal and other value additions. And because of that, it levels down to roughly an appropriate level for every channel. We never go by the card rates,” he added.

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