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Spiritual channels score high but fail to impress planners

03-August-2004
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Spiritual channels score high but fail to impress planners

Spiritual genre might be one of the lesser spoken-of categories in Indian television but it didn’t fail to attract attention from investors like Zee Telefilms or the Times Group. As far as numbers are concerned, this genre does deliver its share. However, planners still don’t consider it to reach out to any target audience.

To get an impression of the genre’s performance, let’s look at the figures for 2004. The target CS 35-54 in the Hindi speaking markets, for the daypart 5 am to 11 am, throws channel shares as high as 2.66 and 2.56 for Aastha. Apart from this, the second strong channel in the segment is Sanskar, which too manages a consistent 1-plus.

Taking Aastha’s example, if numbers are seen for female viewers in the given target category, there is a substantial increase in the weekly channel share. Subsequent weeks have thrown up 3-plus share here. If an older audience, say, CS 54+ female is observed, the graph is dotted with channel shares as high as 8.32, 6.06 and a large number of 4+ and 5+ channel shares.

Evidently as far as numbers are concerned, the channel has a loyal cross section of viewers in its specific target. However, media planners, at large don’t consider the genre at all for any of their brands.

“There is just no marketing done for these channels,” states Jasmin Sohrabji, President, MediaCom (South Asia), “Viewership-pull is alright but there has to be the sales and marketing push to it as well. News channels and kids’ channels too don’t throw very high numbers but they make the required noise.”

PRP Nair, Vice President, OMD Media, too agrees with this. He adds, “Even as there is no promotion of the genre, another aspect is that there are no ads that can be used in the environment that a spiritual channel offers. If you take the example of spiritual publications, there are specific creatives made for the publications but that is not the case with spiritual channels.”

Planners explain that more or less the ads that are currently seen on these channels are corporate ads, which rarely feature products and largely these are a result of corporations that support a specific spiritual cause and not because the channel is looking at tapping a certain audience.

“Which should not be the case as there are products like schemes for the older people from financial institutions that make perfect sense on such channels,” explains Nair, “Also in a single TV household situation chances are that even the other age groups are exposed to this channel. In that sense, it is a potential medium wasted.”

Another point that makes this genre less preferable is the audience that it throws up. “There isn’t an assurance that it throws up a unique audience,” says Sohrabji, to which Nair adds, “Also, this is not really what marketers concentrate on. They are largely looking at the 15-34 audience and these are viewed as the elder TG channels.”

However, now with the entry of players like Zee Telefilms and the Times Group, chances are that the channels will see adequate marketing. As a result, media experts believe that the genre can see a push, “Why not? When the new channels will come to fore, planners will also look at the other channels in the genre and what they have to offer. So yes, the genre can expect a lift,” expresses Sohrabji.

The spiritual segment is not an alien one to the Times Group with their presence already in religious segments and the learning thereof. Coming of the spiritual channel, called Ananda is an indication that there is an audience for this segment.

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