With no Indian cricket series around, Ten Sports is at top

By , agencyfaqs! | In Media Publishing | June 22, 2005
In the last five weeks, Ten Sports has garnered a channel share of 69 per cent among the sports channels, but media planners feel it's only an initial phase, which would be over soon

Remember the old Panchatantra tale, where a cat takes away a piece of bread from two fighting monkeys? Quite a similar situation is emerging in the genre of sports channels.

Allusions apart, Ten Sports has come up as the top sports channel when ZEE and ESPN continue to fight over Indian cricket telecast rights.

As per TAM Media Research, (C&S, 4+, all India, all day parts), Ten Sports is now the numero uno sports channel with a market share of 69% and a TVR of 0.16 between week 18-22 of 2005. In the total viewership pie for sports channels, ESPN's channel share is 12.3% (TVR 0.03), while STAR Sports' share is 11.8% (TVR 0.03). DD Sports managed a share of only 6.7% (TVR 0.02).

Media planners say that the entire genre of sports channels is driven by Indian cricket properties and the scenario is prone to change abruptly when there is no Indian cricket happening - as is the case now.

Even TAM figures support this statement. In the last 17 weeks of 2005, DD Sports was the number one channel with an average channel share of 49% and a TVR of 0.21. And for obvious reasons. DD Sports had aired the Indo-Pak cricket series. However, in the last five weeks, DD Sports' share has dropped to around 6.7%.

Ten Sports emerging as the number one sports channel will surprise many. ESPN STAR Sports has always carried the image of being a more prominent player in this genre, especially due to its aggressive marketing strategies and the way it promotes its properties.

Hiren Pandit, general manager, MindShare, Mumbai, says, "There was a time, when ESPN STAR Sports was almost synonymous with Indian cricket events. But lately, it has lost out in the telecast rights sweepstakes of major cricket events, where India is playing."

Nat West Series was the last cricket event for which the ESPN network had got the telecast rights; the event happened in August-September 2004.

However, Pandit feels that the network will soon be back into the reckoning when the channel telecasts the triangular cricket series to be played at Zimbabwe in September 2005. India will be taking on New Zealand and Zimbabwe at the triangular.

Sandeep Tarkas, chief executive, Media Direction, explains the reason behind this spurt in viewership on Ten Sports. He says, "Wrestling is one property that's driving viewership to the channel, apart from the non-India cricket properties."

Among the the top shows on Ten Sports, it's mainly the showbiz wrestling matches, including WWE, RAW, Smackdown, etc. The channel has a specific time band for these shows - between 5-7 pm every evening - which attracts a huge bunch of kids. The channel also repeats the telecast at 10.30 pm, when viewers across categories come in. The TVR of these shows range between 0.5 to 0.1.

Between week 18-22, Ten Sports had also telecast the one-day international matches played between Pakistan and West Indies, which also contributed to this viewership growth.

Kajal Malik, regional director, Optimum Media Solutions, throws a different light on this story. She says, "One also needs to look at the distribution of the channel." She adds, "Whenever there is a major cricketing property, the sports channels try to squeeze the maximum subscription charges from the cable operators - which is also a major source of revenue for them. So, when there is no major cricket property happening, cable operators tend to remove the channel from the prime band as there is no pressure from the consumers. A similar kind of situation may have affected ESPN STAR Sports' viewership."

However, media planners feel that the viewership pie-chart of sports channels may not be similar to the advertising pie-chart. Malik of OMS says, "ESPN STAR Sports must have lost viewers for an initial period, but its aggressive marketing strategy and ability to build properties even around non-cricket events should lead the network to the winning position as far as revenues are concerned." 2005 agencyfaqs!

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