India no longer has a clear number two general Hindi entertainment channel. Zee TV, the otherwise No. 3 player in the segment, has been steadily beating Sony on the all day parameter, however, for the last five weeks, both channels have been neck-to-neck in the primetime as well, with Zee taking a clear lead in a few weeks and being within striking distance of others.
TAM Media Research shows that for the C&S 4+ in the Hindi speaking markets for 7.30 pm to the 11.00 pm slots, the Zee has been breathing down Sony’s neck for the last nine weeks. Of the last four TAM weeks, Zee has been clearly beating Sony in primetime in the first three weeks, the latest week seeing Sony go a notch up to be on the second spot – bottom line, the battle is close now.
It may be recalled that on the all day level, Zee has been clearly beating Sony for the past 10 weeks. Media experts had expressed that the credit for this could be given to the fact that Zee had developed various day parts, which on the whole, contributed to the channel’s share, in effect taking it to the number two spot. The question then was whether the distance could be closed in primetime as well. “And we knew it was a question of time,” said Ashiwini Yardi, Programming Head, Zee TV.
Yardi further said, “We ensured that initiatives were taken across the day and we have been quick to substitute what was not working for the channel. The result is that today we have shows like ‘Saath Phere’, ‘Kasamh Se’, ‘Sinndoor’ and so on that are delivering good numbers for the channel. At the same time, the changes that we made to our existing shows like ‘Sa Re Ga Ma…’ paid off and we have seen the show give some of the highest numbers that it ever had. In all, it is a sum total of various efforts that have ensured our number two position today.”
Giving Sony’s point of view on these numbers, Anupama Mandloi, Senior VP, On-air Programming, said, “They are numbers, they change.” A point to be noted here is that the changed Sony scheduling, which kicked in last week, would also begin throwing numbers now. Speaking on the expectations from the new timings, Mandloi said, “They should make a difference to the channel and hopefully for the better. Strategy and execution are all based on the simple premise of the numbers game.”
The status of the channels is clear so far and the fact that the new scheduling can impact primetime numbers cannot be discounted. Nonetheless, Zee has a clear plan of action for the road ahead. “There are quite a few more slots that need to be filled up and we are working on that. Plus in both ‘Saath Phere’ and ‘Kasamh Se’, there are some interesting twists going forward. I think all of this will give us a comfortable lead going forward,” asserted Yardi.
Regarding Sony’s plan of action, Mandloi chose to abstain from speaking about the new shows that the channel had been developing and merely offered, “The first thing moving forward is the launch of our Friday programming. The unveiling will happen bit by bit.”
It is a very close fight between the No 2 and the No. 3 players and all it would take is just one good move for either Sony or Zee to claim the No. 2 spot distinctly. The big question is – who will get the move right?