A few years ago, Raj TV was the number two general entertainment channel in Tamil Nadu. Today, it has slipped by a couple of notches in channel-ranking after having to contend with rivals such as STAR Vijay and Jaya TV at every step.
However, the decade-old Raj TV is in no mood to concede defeat. Rajeev Nambiar, CEO, Raj TV, emphatically says, the channel has devised a broad plan to "reduce clutter and enhance viewer experience". This will translate into "some form of overhauling" during primetime and non-primetime bands coupled with a change in the look and feel of the channel. "It won't be an overnight transition, but will happen in phases," he adds.
The channel hopes to refurbish its 6 pm and post-9.00 pm time bands on weekdays. Currently, the 6.00 pm slot has music-based offerings, while a daily serial Kanavugal plays in the 9.00 pm slot. 9.30 pm is devoted to film-based shows.
The morning bands of 8-9 am and 9-12 noon will also see some changes, though Nambiar declines to get into the precise nature of these changes.
A couple of years ago, Raj TV depended heavily on a staple of movies and movie-based shows, which were given a cold shoulder by viewers. In an interview with agencyfaqs! in 2002, Nambiar had admitted that going full-throttle after movies and movie-based programming was a mistake and the channel had attempted to correct this with a line-up of daily and weekly shows.
At the moment, its 8-9 pm weekday band comprising half-hour serials Geethanjali and Nilavai Pidipom (the latter is from K Balachandra, who is a noted TV producer down South) are popular draws, while the Suhasini Maniratnam-hosted magazine show Ladies Junction is popular with women. Its Friday blockbuster movie slot Velli Minnalgal (Friday Lightening) at 8.00 pm also attracts eyeballs, though Nambiar refuses to comment on the latest blockbusters acquired by the channel.
Over the last three years, say analysts, most of the top Tamil movies have been snagged by Sun leaving the "balance" for players such as Raj. The channel, incidentally, did acquire a lot of about 50 movies recently, which included a few flicks of superstar Rajnikant. "These movies have been exposed on other channels earlier," says Nambiar. "Nevertheless, it is a good lot we have," he adds.
Clutter levels on the channel are high on account of the numerous small-to-medium budget advertisers, especially from the retail sector, who advertise heavily on Raj. "If SUN is at the top end of the segment attracting clients with huge budgets, Raj has smaller clients going for it," says a TV airtime marketer based in Chennai. "SUN gives you reach while channels such as Raj are bought to increase OTS (opportunity-to-see) level of brands," adds a media planner from a Top Ten agency.
Actual commercial time, says Nair, very often exceeds the inventory level by about 10 to 20 per cent eating into valuable promo time. "This has to come down to increase pleasure viewing," he says. Owing to the overseas uplinking of Raj and sibling movie channel Raj Digital Plus, last-minute changes in advertisements are ruled out with the sales team having to maintain a lead time of about three days to close deals and receive ads. Nambiar says that the issue will be resolved soon and the two channels will be uplinked from the country soon.
For the uninitiated, Raj is uplinking both Raj TV and Raj Digital Plus from Bangkok rather than from its teleport in Chennai. It had to do this from November 18, 2004 onwards because its uplinking license was terminated by the Department of Telecommunications on account of it uplinking two new channels Vissa and Raj Musix. Raj challenged the DoT order in the Madras High Court, subsequently moving the Supreme Court where the matter is being heard at the moment.
Viewership in Tamil Nadu is sharply skewed towards 'movies and serials', and the indisputable leaders in this space are Sun TV and its second channel KTV, which occupy the number one and two slots in the state.
"Beyond these two, it is really a free-for-all, though of late, STAR Vijay has been picking up thanks to its dubbed Hollywood movie initiative at 11.30 am on Sundays," says a senior media analyst based in Chennai.
The Sun group and Jaya TV have reacted to Vijay's onslaught in their own ways. The former concluded a deal recently with Buena Vista Television International to source Hollywood movies from its library. Jaya, on the other hand, has a dubbed English movie slot on Saturdays at 9.30 pm.
© 2005 agencyfaqs!