It's not a war of nerves during non-prime time

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | July 08, 2010
One probable reason for STAR Plus' leadership during non-prime time is the legacy it enjoys among Indian television viewers, especially women from non-metros who are the main viewers during this time slot

It's always a war of nerves amongst the top three general entertainment channels (GECs) - STAR Plus, Colors and Zee TV - during prime time, where all three channels fight a close race for supremacy. However, the same rule doesn't apply during non-prime time (2 pm-7 pm), where STAR Plus is clearly ahead of the pack.

As per TAM Media Research, C&S, 4+, the difference in average GRPs of 12 weeks (Week 15-26) between the No. 1 channel, STAR Plus and No. 2 channel, Colors during prime time (7-12 pm), where they are fighting neck to neck, is only of 17 GRPs. In the non-prime time (2-7 pm) band, the gap between the two is larger, with a difference of 44 GRPs.

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This is significant because channels get almost 30-50 per cent of their daily viewership from this time band. For instance, non-prime time (2-7 pm) contributes to about 46 per cent of STAR Plus' viewership, while for Colors, the figure is 40 per cent. In case of Sony, which is the No. 3 channel in this time band, the contribution is as high as 57 per cent.

This time band is crucial for GECs not only for the viewership but also for the revenue. As per industry estimates, 50 per cent of a channel's total revenue comes from prime time. Interestingly, the non-prime time band (2-7 pm) contributes 30-40 per cent of the total ad revenue of a GEC. The remaining 10 per cent comes from the morning slot and other parts of the day.

One probable reason for STAR Plus' leadership during non-prime time is the legacy it enjoys among Indian television viewers, especially women in the non-metros, who are the main viewers during this time slot.

A senior media planner says, "Women in smaller towns watch more television in the afternoon and early evening - not to say that the trend is not there in the metros - and traditionally, STAR Plus has enjoyed a loyal viewership amongst the SEC B, C and D audience, which has helped the channel claim a clear leadership in this time slot."

Interestingly, STAR Plus continues to maintain this lead through repeat programming during the afternoon time band - a strategy initiated by Colors - whereas the latter experimented with original programming in the afternoon time band, which, though, did not work out too well for the channel.

However, on weekends, the GECs also air movies, which often turn out to be the deciding factor in increasing or decreasing the gap between two channels.

So what does this mean?

Certainly, STAR Plus enjoys a favourable approach from the advertisers. As Mona Jain, chief operating officer, VivaKi Exchange, says, "The lead in this time slot signifies additional revenues for the channel as there is space for inventory play - and not all skew of inventory is on prime time."

This time slot is a favourite amongst many FMCG players, especially from sectors such as fabric care, oral care and hair care, simply because for these advertisers, the primary targets are women who can be reached during these time slots at a reasonable price. In other words, the non-prime time band proves to be a cost effective method to build reach.

As per industry estimates, reaching out to the female TG (target group) in non-prime time proves to be about 40-60 per cent lower in comparison to prime time.

As Himanka Das, vice-president, Karishma Initiative, says, "For many brands in these categories targeting the home makers, non-prime time is actually the prime time."

For instance, if the prime time rates for the lead channel goes up to Rs 2 lakh for 10 seconds, during non-prime time, the price reaches a maximum of Rs 35,000 per 10 seconds - and only STAR Plus commands such a high price in this time slot. Colors gets anything in the range of Rs 18,000-25,000 for a 10 second ad-spot, while ad rates for Zee TV are in the range of Rs 14,000-20,000.

The leadership in non-prime time also becomes crucial in claiming leadership in the whole day - where the top three channels fight for a few GRPs.

Jain says, "The channel with the maximum number of shows in the Top 50 list is obviously the leader channel. A higher number of shows in any given slot creates leadership perception. It enables a channel to attract advertising and creates potential to command price."

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