A few months ago, when Sameer Nair, COO, STAR India, made & #BANNER1 & # the statement that STAR One would become the number two general entertainment channel by the end of 2005, many thought that he was getting too ambitious.
But now, STAR One is slowly gaining ground in the market. And the success of shows such as 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge' ('TGILC') and now 'Nach Baliye' seems to indicate that Nair's dream could well be coming true.
According to TAM Media Research (C&S, 4+, HSM, September 9, 10-11pm) during the finals of 'TGILC', STAR One's share among the general entertainment channels was the highest, at 48 per cent, followed by STAR Plus at 32 per cent. In comparison, Sony and Zee achieved a share of 13 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively.
This was certainly an achievement for the channel, which is yet to complete a year. Nevertheless, many still thought that STAR One was just a one-programme wonder. But the channel came up trumps once again with another reality show, 'Nach Baliye'. The show has helped the channel garner a share of 15 per cent (October 13, Week 42, all day). It was second only to STAR Plus, which managed a share of 53 per cent, and ahead of Sony, which got a 13 per cent share.
However, close watchers of the industry feel that it will take STAR One some more time to actually topple Sony from the number two position among general entertainment channels. But they are also of the opinion that while previously, there was a huge gap between the number two Sony and number three Zee, that scenario might change now.
As Kajal Malik, regional director, Optimum Media Solutions (OMS), says, "In the coming months, there could be a close competition for the number two position between Sony and STAR One. Of course, in order to achieve that, STAR One needs to build its other time bands."
Sandip Tarkas, chief executive officer, Media Direction, also feels that a few more successful shows could make STAR One a close contender for the number two position. He says, "It's still premature to say whether STAR One will topple Sony from the number two position, but the channel certainly has the potential to do so."
Malik of OMS says "In fact, the channel has already initiated this process. While it strengthened its Friday line-up with a weekly show, 'TGILC', it has further strengthened Tuesdays to Thursdays with 'Nach Baliye'."
She adds, "'TGILC' and 'Nach Baliye' have proved to be the driver shows and brought the masses to the channel."
Suddenly, STAR One has also managed to find a place among the consideration set of advertisers and media planners.
And the objective behind launching STAR One was just that. As per industry estimates, STAR Plus gets around Rs 750-800 crore of revenue every year. In comparison, Sony manages around Rs 300-350 crore and Zee, another Rs 200-250 crore.
Malik of OMS says, "STAR's objective was to get a share from this Rs 500-550 crore, which was going into Sony and Zee's kitty."
However, media planners such as Debraj Tripathy, general manager, Maxus, say, "Advertisers certainly like 'Nach Baliye', but not the other shows. This indicates that the channel still needs to consistently produce a string of successful shows. And if the channel is successful in doing so, it could certainly be a threat to Sony."
Going by what all the media planners say, STAR also has the reputation of building successful time bands one after another, the way it has done with STAR Plus, starting from 'KBC' to 'Kaahin To Hoga'.
Puneet Johar, vice-president, marketing and communications, STAR India, says, "Our success is not a one-show phenomenon. 'TGILC' was a huge hit and it gave us a platform to get viewers to take notice of the channel. Now with 'Laughter Champions' and 'Nach Baliye', we have two strong programmes."
He elaborates, "To strengthen the channel, we are launching two more new shows on November 14, 'India Calling' and 'Darna Mana Hai'.
'India Calling' is a daily soap, which will be aired from Monday to Wednesday. But once 'Nach Baliye' is over, the show will be extended to Thursdays as well. The soap tells the story of a young girl who moves to Mumbai from a small town. It takes up the issue of call centre employees, which Johar thinks is very topical these days.
The second show is 'Darna Mana Hai', which is about horror in unexpected places. This will be a linear story in four episodes from Monday to Thursday.
Johar says, "We were in the process of building blocks to get viewers. Now we are focusing on building a formidable line-up of prime-time programmes. We will also be launching more shows in the next three-six months and are looking at three-four hits in the prime-time band."
He continues, "We have gained critical mass with our channel and are now looking at broad-basing our viewership. The content on the channel still adheres to what we stated when we started - providing alternate entertainment and exploring new genres and new formats."
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