shows based on musical talent hunts are a big hit with television channels. The success stories of Hero Honda SaReGaMaPa Challenge, Amul STAR Voice of India (VOI) and Indian Idol prove as much.
However, the real fight to hook viewers appears to be between Zee TV and STAR Plus, given that both SaReGaMaPa and Voice of India go on air in quick succession. The latest edition of SaReGaMaPa hit television screens on July 4. Voice of India is all set to start on July 18. Indian Idol will join the competition only in mid-September.
So, which channel will reign supreme in 2008-09? Tarun Mehra, business head, Zee TV, is confident that SaReGaMaPa will once more assert its supremacy over the others, riding high on the quality of its singers and its unique format. Mehra points out that the TRP ratings showed SaReGaMaPa to be performing better than VOI even in the year when the mentor of the show, Gajendra Singh, crossed over to STAR Plus.
Anamika MehtaMehra says, "The show has been running successfully on Zee TV since its first edition in 1995. For us, even last year, the show was a success story by all standards. The new edition too has been promoted heavily to ensure that it gets a favourable response from viewers and other stakeholders."
According to TAM, SaReGaMaPa, in 2007, had an average TVR of 6.5 (C&S 4+) over a period of 13 weeks in the run-up to the grand finale. The final episode delivered a TVR of 9.3. On the other hand, VOI on STAR Plus (with Singh making his debut) delivered an average TVR of 3.6 over a period of 13 weeks. The final episode of VOI registered a TVR of 6.9.
Prem Kamath, vice-president, STAR Plus, echoes Mehra's sentiments. According to him, the man behind the show is undoubtedly important, but the crucial factor in the success or failure of a musical talent hunt is the singing talent. The audience is mostly oblivious of the name or face behind a particular show. It identifies with and relates to the people appearing on the screen. In its second season, VOI has a highly talented and versatile pool of contenders vying for the title, he says.
Basabdutta Chowdhury, chief executive officer, Madison Media Plus, provides a different perspective on the issue. "The format and audience for both the music shows are similar, leaving little room for differentiation. The audience tunes in to these shows to sample quality music. Again, both shows derive their audience from the loyal and regular watchers of STAR or Zee TV. SaReGaMaPa Challenge, VOI and Indian Idol, at a given period of time, commanded a TVR of 20 among themselves. Evidently, viewers have a large appetite for each of these shows."
Media pundits believe that the whole package matters. Supreme singing talent, high production values, judges and the accompanying marketing blitz all work in tandem to determine a show's fate.
Does the high premium attached to shows on STAR Plus give VOI an edge over SaReGaMaPa? Mona Jain, executive vice-president, India Media Exchange (IMX), puts things in perspective. She says, "Last year saw a dwindling of the supremacy of STAR as a platform. With strong programming and high reach, Zee has considerably lowered the lead between the two top channels. Claiming a channel to be No. 1 or No. 2 has become highly unpredictable today. The chemistry on the sets and the degree of controversies generated fuel the TRPs for the show."
Some analysts feel that data collected for different sets of audience, say, SEC A+ , will probably paint a different picture of the performance. Apart from the individual and collective talent on display, the anchor and judges are of utmost importance to strike a chord of familiarity with the audience. Interestingly, Ismail Darbar and Adesh Srivastava have switched places this season. Darbar has joined VOI, while Srivastava will feature in SaReGaMaPa.
Anamika Mehta, chief operating officer, Lodestar Universal Media, explains, "One or two popular faces from well recognised shows do come as a surprise to loyal viewers, but this cannot be quantified. Both shows have competent, crowd pulling anchors in Shaan and Aditya Narayan. Zee has a real but small advantage in launching SaReGaMaPa ahead of VOI. It manages to cultivate and draw in a new set of viewers for the show. In the long run, the talent in the show gives it the edge to maintain the lead and consistency in terms of a loyal and sustained viewership."