Till a short & #BANNER1 & # while ago, the hierarchy among the general entertainment channels (GECs) was clearly defined. STAR Plus enjoyed the market leadership, which it still does. Sony Entertainment Television (SET) was number 2 and Zee Television was number 3.
But the tide has turned and the hierarchy in this genre seems to be changing. The fight between Zee and SET for the number 2 position is intensifying every week. Since early December 2005, Zee has beaten SET eight weeks in a row in terms of channel share. And that's not all, the gap between Zee and SET has also widened with the passing weeks.
As per TAM figures (C&S, 4+, Hindi Speaking Markets), analysed by agencyfaqs!, in Week 49 of 2005 (November 27-December 3), SET, the number 2 GEC, had a channel share of 13.8 per cent among the GECs. In comparison, at number three, Zee's share was 12.37 per cent.
However, in Week 50 of 2005 (December 4-10), Zee toppled SET from the number 2 position with a channel share of 13.49 per cent. During this week, SET managed a share of just 11.72 per cent.
This was not an isolated instance. Over the last eight weeks, as Zee has acquired the clear number 2 position, the gap between the two has widened. In Week 4 of 2006 (January 22-28), Zee managed a share of 19.43 per cent, while Sony's share was just 12.24 per cent.
So, can we safely declare that Zee is number 2 among the GECs?
Close watchers of the industry are not ready to accept this hierarchy just yet. They say there will be a close fight between SET and Zee before either channel can undisputedly claim the number 2 slot.
In fact, Zee winning the number 2 slot is attributed to the revamped 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge'. In the last eight weeks, the programme attained the highest TVR of 4.07 on January 20.
Manish Porwal, executive director, India (West), Starcom, agrees that a major part of the success can be credited to 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge'. But he also asserts that this change in hierarchy was long overdue for Zee.
Porwal says, "Zee's programmes were always talked about, but now the improved programming, packaging and promotions are cumulatively paying off for the channel."
According to Debraj Tripathi, general manager, Delhi, Maxus, 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge' has given Zee a kickstart, "but now, the challenge for the channel is to sustain it through other interesting programmes".
Another show that is boosting Zee is 'Saat Phere - Saloni ka Safar'. The show got a maximum TVR of 3.42 on January 19.
Tripathi feels that SET is overly dependent on 'Indian Idol'.
Arpita Menon, general manager, FCB Lodestar, says, "Sony was really banking on the success of the second series of 'Indian Idol'." But its performance didn't match that of the previous series, which was a mega success. "Besides, Sony hasn't introduced any new innovative programming recently which could get the interest of the viewers," says Menon.
Both Tripathi and Menon warn that Zee, too, could meet the same fate if it doesn't constantly innovate in its programming.
As Porwal cautions, "The story is far from over. Zee needs at least four or five of its shows to become mega hits to become the undisputed number 2."
While Sony and Zee battle it out, a third contender is STAR One, which, for a few weeks in 2005, claimed the number 2 slot, thanks to 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge'.
© 2006 agencyfaqs!