Some advertisers and media service brands are clear that tier-three channels definitely help in building frequency. For some advertisers, these lower rung channels can be good options for brand integration or for geographical focus or can be entry points in Hindi GEC genre. For such advertisers, tier-three channels have become an indispensable part of the media plan. However, for many others, tier-three channels are a complete no-no. In the second part of this special report, where we have referred to the channels that corner weekly GRPs below 80 as tier-three channels – at present this includes SaharaOne and Star One – we find out if they can survive the battle of GRPs.
Steering clear of tier-three channels
In the first part of this report we had marketers talking about the role of these channels in the media plan, but there are few others who believe that they have no role to play in the brand building exercise for their brands.
Sriram Padmanabhan, GM – Marketing, Ford India, felt that tier-three channels did not fit premium products such as cars or expensive consumer durables. He added, “We ideally advertise in the top three GECs and a few regional channels rather than advertise in tier-three GECs because the investments are not justified.”
On similar lines, Sanjay Tripathy, Executive Vice President - Marketing and Direct Channels, HDFC Life, explained, “The main three GECs cover the set of audience we want to target, and a channel having less than 80 GRPs does not make sense for our kind of category because it is typically more driven towards news as it has to be heard in an environment which is slightly more trustworthy or believable. Our target group is primarily males in the 30-45 age group, so their consumption is mainly news, while GECs are primarily for female audience. Hence, as far as our product category is concerned, GECs are not so important and we don’t require channels beyond the top six, because the additional reach that we will get will be pretty miniscule and that might not even be our TG.”
On the other hand, for a brand like Shoppers Stop, the communication was more press, OOH and radio oriented. As Vinay Bhatia, VP - Marketing and Loyalty, Shoppers Stop, remarked, “TV does not feature in my media plan right now, and even if it does come in at a later date, it will probably focus on niche channels due to the nature of our brand. For brands that require incremental reach, some of these tier-three channels can provide the incremental reach as they do have a specific set of following. A brand that is mass and women-oriented would include these channels in their media plan.”
Survival of the fittest, content is the key
In the highly competitive GEC space, the challenge becomes tougher for tier-three channels to survive. We have already seen the closure of channels like Real and the near closure of 9X. Movie channels have examples like Zee Cinema and Max that are delivering up to 150 GRPs, which competes with tier-two Hindi GECs. And unlike GECs, movie channels have a controlled content cost, since it is not original content as seen on Hindi GECs.
Commenting on the survival of the tier-three channels, Hema Malik, General Manager, Lodestar UM, said, “It is tough, and even the top ones are struggling for eyeballs. They will have to make a shift in the strategy and redefine their TG. Seventy per cent of the population is in rural India and smaller towns. Marketers are also looking at that population. In a different context, there has to be a change in the profile of the channels as programming is getting tough by the day and there are revenue pressures on these channels.”
On the other hand, Shashank Srivastava, GM - Marketing, Maruti Suzuki remarked, “These channels already have a place in the GEC space. Unlike Real and 9X, which were relatively new launches, Star One and SaharaOne have been around for a long time and have their own niche. Also, Star One has recently revamped its programming by moving to a more updated and soaps based theme, which may help boost its viewership.”
Kajal Malik, Senior VP, Lintas Media Group, added here, “Honestly, it is for the content to decide. Everyone is experimenting with content. Broadcasters are experimenting with good content on second rung GECs. Content is the main driver and a large investment is required. It all depends on how deep their pockets are to keep experimenting.”
Mohit Joshi, Executive Director, North, MPG, too, agrees that future lay in content. He added, “Sony is a case in point, which has taken the content route (‘3 Idiots’, ‘KBC’, etc.) to improve its position in the GEC ecosystem. Star One had started very well but got lost somewhere in the journey. SaharaOne still does well in certain pockets of UP. They will need to innovate on their content to stay in the viewership battle, there is no other way out.”
Network strength matters
Meanwhile, the network strength of a channel definitely helps in boosting viewership, like STAR India and Sahara One Media have a major role to play for the weaker brands.
Commenting on the role that a network played, Hema Malik noted, “STAR definitely can help Star One in a big way. They have done it in the past and they have managed to pull Star Plus’ audience. While Star One stands to benefit from the network strength, it is not so much in the case of SaharaOne.”
Kajal Malik, too, felt that a large network played a bigger role in promoting weaker brands, like Star Plus promoted Star One, Star Utsav or Star CJ Live.
Srivastava averred, “Network is important in boosting viewership of the weaker brands by driving promotions of the weaker brand on its top-rated properties. Also, the marketing clout of large corporate houses can also drive a more positive image for the brands, thereby driving viewership to these channels.”
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