agencyfaqs! News Bureau
It is not just the KBCs, the JCPKs and the various permutations of the mother-in-law-daughter-in-law formula that are roping in viewership and providing cannon fodder for TV channels in their battle for supremacy. In fact, a whole new front has opened up in the news and current affairs arena, where both the Star and Zee groups have a lot at stake. And the prime mover is none other than 24-hour news channel Aaj Tak, from the TV Today Network.
The latest Television Audience Measurement (TAM) rating, released by AC Nielsen, shows that Aaj Tak has gone down quite well with the audience. As per the TAM figures, across the week, an average viewer spent 64 minutes with Aaj Tak. The corresponding figures for Zee News and Star News are 33 minutes and 22 minutes, respectively. The TAM figures also reveal that Aaj Tak has carved a 20-per cent audience share across news channels, which is as good as what Star has achieved, although it doesn't quite best Zee News' audience share.
In an earlier interview to agencyfaqs!, G. Krishnan, executive director, TV Today, had said, "The whole idea of Hindi as down-market is a creation of the English-educated elite. If television is to succeed as a mass medium, it must speak the language of the masses." At the end of the first round at least, Krishnan's stand appears to have been vindicated.
One reason why Aaj Tak has managed to creep ahead of Star is that the latter is still perceived to be an English channel. But that is not to take anything away from Aaj Tak. It is learned that media planners have actively been looking at the channel, especially to reach out to Hindi-speaking households. And this has apparently been giving the folks at Zee News sleepless nights.
agencyfaqs! has learnt that among others, Videocon, Airtel, and BPL have agreed to advertise on the channel, and more big spenders are coming on board. Of course, this could also be attributed to the fact that Aaj Tak's rates are lower than its rivals'.
"Aaj Tak has been well received by viewers," says one media planner working with a top 10 agency. "Of course, it is a function of the reputation TV Today has built in its association with Doordarshan. But it is one thing producing a one-hour programme every day, and quite another providing round-the-clock content. TV Today has proved its mettle."
He also points out that this first phase of competition between Aaj Tak, Zee News and Star News is "more like heats". According to him, the real action will start when the Union budget presentation gets underway. "That is going to be the acid test. And it might be winner-takes-all," he says.
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