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Tier-three Hindi GECs: Only about frequencies? Part 1

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Tier-three Hindi GECs: Only about frequencies? Part 1

The intense competition in the Hindi general entertainment space has led to an increase in options for advertisers. At present, there is an intense variation between the delivery of the top players and the lower rung players of the genre. In the current Hindi GEC scenario, channels such as Star Plus, Colors and Zee TV are placed on top of the chain. These channels fetch far above the 200-250 weekly channel GRPs – Star Plus has even closed on to 400 GRPs in recent weeks. The second rung, channels such as Sony Entertainment, SAB and Imagine, gross anywhere from 90 GRPs to 200 GRPs. And in the lowest rung, or the tier-three, are channels that move between 50 - 60 GRPs on a good week. At present, Star One, SaharaOne and DD1 fall in this category. As is known, DD1 is a public broadcaster, SaharaOne is the flagship channel of the SaharaOne Media and Star One is the second Hindi GEC of STAR India.

While the tier-three Hindi GECs are not spared and need to create original content to fill the channel’s primetime, their numbers are lower than other genre like Hindi movie channels, which today get 120-150 GRPs. Why would an advertiser put any money on the tier-three channels? Do they make sense from a frequency viewpoint when there are cheaper options available? Even as neither STAR India officials nor SaharaOne officials offered any views, exchange4media spoke to advertisers and media service brands to know more on the role of the tier-three Hindi GECS…

For Frequency Building & Focussed Targeting
Putting things in perspective, Maruti Suzuki’s General Manager - Marketing, Shashank Srivastava observed, “The role of tier-three channels has been decreasing over the years especially with the increase of number of channels in the GEC space, and the improving performance of other options like movie channels.”

Despite this, tier-three channels do manage to keep their inventories full. The most popular reply to why do advertisers buy tier-three channels in a media plan was that they are ‘frequency builders’. According to Hema Malik, General Manager, Lodestar UM, tier-three channels have been tempting since entry costs are low, and hence can be used in media plans to build frequency. Lintas Media Group’s Senior Vice President, Kajal Malik, echoed the view.

Peshwa Acharya, VP and Head- Marketing and Consumer Experience, Reliance Retail, however, brought in a different viewpoint here stating that tier-three channels can form a great part of the mix if it comes at the right price.

These experts also pointed out that even as tier-three channels couldn’t help in any brand building exercise in isolation, they did form part of bigger media plans.

Malik cited the example of Star One and said, “Star One has many youth-focussed or younger audience based shows. To reach this kind of target, this would make for a good option.” Srivastava added here that tier-three channels can be used to target specific geographies where their performance is better than their peers. He said, “Take the example of SaharaOne, which used to be a strong player in UP some time ago. A tier-three channel may be included to target specific geographies.”

For marketers like Anup Jain, Director, Marketing Director, Pizza Hut, Indian Sub-continent tier-three channels can also be used for targeting certain segments by “definition of value segments”. He elaborated that when one was looking at SEC B downwards, they would tend to look at channels that could help them reach that set of consumers. “Tier-three channels have a mass following,” said Jain.

Brand Integration & Larger Role
Lintas Media Group’s Kajal Malik observed that tier-three Hindi general entertainment channels also gave the option of brand integration. She added, “They also play a key role in brand effectiveness.”

Srivastava pointed out that as was true for any channel, the shows were more important than the channels. He commented, “The inclusion of the channel has to be property specific, which will positively impact a brand, or example when Star One had launched ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’. On its own, just the channel name and an association with it may not be enough to play a role in brand building. Tier-three channels may also be included if they are airing any large impact property or a blockbuster.”

Many industry observers believe that no matter how small the role is, tier-three channels have a role to play in the media plan. However, there are marketers who believe that tier-three channels don’t have any role to play for their brands. For those views, and the future of tier-three channels, read the second part of the report on November 30, 2010 on



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