Wooing the hoi polloi gets Zoom into trouble

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising | February 28, 2005
As the channel's positioning gets weaker, media planners are reconsidering Zoom while planning media

Oomph sells. Zoom, the non-fiction lifestyle channel from The Times of India group, was betting on this factor while designing its programming mix.

What the channel probably hadn't bargained for was the 'wrong' kind of viewers that it will attract.

Zoom is positioned as a channel for the classes. But the current TAM data reveals an altogether different story. Lower socio-economic groups form a bulk of its viewership.

Basabdutta Chowdhuri, general manager - Madison Media, Delhi, says, "As per the total C&S universe, 32 per cent viewers are from SEC A, B and the rest 68 per cent is from SEC C, D and E. In Zoom's case, however, the percentage of viewers coming in from the upper SECs is even lower. So, there's no way we can say that Zoom is skewed towards the urban upwardly mobile viewers."

She adds that the current trend of viewership has certainly weakened the channel's positioning.

Chowdhuri's opinion is based on current TAM figures. Among the top 10 shows on Zoom, there are at least six programmes where the viewership is higher among the SEC C, D and E categories.

For instance, 'Sadhana Cut' - one of the top-scoring shows for the channel - has 84 per cent viewers coming in from the SEC C, D and E, and only 16 per cent from SEC A and B. Another top-scoring show for the channel, 'Zoom Theaters', is more popular among the SEC C, D and E class viewers, contributing some 81 per cent of the total viewership. 'Lamhretta' is another show where 71 per cent of viewers come from the lower socio-economic group. (Source: TAM Media research, C&S, 4+, Hindi speaking markets, September 12, 2004 to February 12, 2005).

In the early days, Zoom's penetration was high in the urban markets; the viewership was also high among the upper SECs. As the channel expanded to other markets, more viewers came in from the lower SECs and smaller towns. This, apparently, is the reason for the channel's 'popularity' with the lower socio-economic groups.

Kajal Thakur, regional director, Optimum Media Solutions, is of the opinion that viewers from all socio-economic groups come to Zoom for its sleaze content. "It's the same reason why viewers watch FTV or a South Indian channel, which shows steamy videos in the late night time-band," she says.

Apurva Purohit, COO, television division, Times Entertainment, defends. "This is a natural progression. Zoom is a glamour and lifestyle channel, and is targeted at the urban young viewers. There will always be a segment of viewers coming in from other socio-economic groups. We cannot stop that."

She cites the example of a show 'Popkorn', which is very popular among Zoom's actual TG. agencyfaqs! duly probed. It seems even Popkorn has 65 per cent viewers coming from the lower socio-economic groups, which is SEC C, D and E.

A Bangalore-based media planner comments, "Most of the shows on Zoom are vicarious and frivolous in nature. This leads to a situation where viewers do come in, but they don't stick around. In addition, their viewing pattern is also very erratic, which is certainly a matter of concern for the advertisers."

Chowdhury of Madison doesn't consider the floating viewership as a major concern. In any case, products are advertised across channels to increase the visibility of the brand, she says. "However, now that the lower SECs watch Zoom more, we will certainly need to categorise our future adverts on the channel."

Thakur of OMS says, "While planning media for a lifestyle product catering to young adults, we would choose among Discovery Travel and Living, MTV, CHannel [v] or Zoom. Zoom, in fact, will be a great platform for products such as fashionable mobile handsets for youngsters in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. But, for a high-end product, catering to the elite, Discovery Travel and Living will be preferred over Zoom."

Despite Zoom's popularity with an unintended target group, the channel can still be used to promote certain high-end brands, says another media planner. His recipe: "In such a scenario, the channel has to hook in a larger number of young viewers between 15 and 24 years from the lower socio-economic groups."

He elaborates, "A young person may belong to a SEC B family. But he always aspires to have a SEC A lifestyle. The channel certainly has a lot of aspirational values attached to it. So, certain product promotions are likely to induce this TG to buy."

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