For Zee Television India (ZTI) it could be the light at the end of a long tunnel. Finally, after the advent of Kaun Banega Crorepati on STAR Plus and the debacle of 26 new shows launched at the same time last year, things are beginning to look up.
The new popularity of the channel corresponds to the advent of new programming, which has been the high point of the channel this March and April. These include the live telecasts of Playwin Infravest, India's first on-line lottery, which was kicked off on March 5 at 6.00 pm and was telecast live on Zee TV on March 29. Then there was the new game show Khelo Number Khelo which debuted April 11, the new up close look at celebrities, Jeena Kisi Ka Naam Hai, and a mixture of comedies and soaps. The strategy was part of a well thought out plan to keep away from the programming of rivals STAR Plus and Sony, and create viewer excitement.
The new programming strategy seems to be working, believes the channel brass. "We have consistently maintained that the TVR figures do not reflect the actual popularity of our programmes. The new programmes have done tremendously well," says an official spokesperson of the channel.
It is a contention that is borne out by channel share figures, based on TAM data for the last four-six weeks. Zee has been steadily gaining during this period. For example, for SEC ABC audiences (in the 15 to 44 age group) in Hindi-speaking markets, Zee's channel share has gone up from 4.29 per cent in the week March 10 to March 15, to 6.16 per cent in the week April 7 to April 13.
In this crucial market, the growth has been steady. In the week March 16 to March 22, the channel's share went up to 5.62 per cent from 4.29 per cent in the preceding week. And in the week after, March 23 to March 30, the share went up to 5.95 per cent. Between March 31 to April 6, it leaped to 6.11 per cent. In the last week for which data is available, that is April 7 to April 13, its share was up at 6.16 per cent.
Of the rival channels, Sony Entertainment Television has been fluctuating. Take the past one month. Starting off with a 7.75 per cent channel share for the week March 10 to March 15, it was up at 8.99 per cent the week after (March 16 to March 22). It then went down to 8.07 per cent (March 23 to March 30), and climbed again to 9.37 per cent (March 31 to April 6). And finally, for the last week for which data is available, that is, April 7 to April 13, it was down at 8.31 per cent.
The leader, STAR Plus, has however seen a steady rise, from 17.31 per cent in the beginning of March to 19.22 per cent in mid-April.
One thing that seems to be working in Zee's favour is that, after a long time, the playing fields are more or less level. None of the new shows, launched by any channel, have made dramatic impact. Sample this. According to TAM, the Top 20 programmes for the week ended April 13 (among women in the 15 to 44 age group who watch C&S in the SEC ABC Hindi-speaking markets, minus Ahmedabad), are the older ones. These include Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki from STAR Plus, and Kutumb and Kkusum from Sony. Zee has not made it to the Top 20 in this group.
Playwin, in the meanwhile continues to rake up audience interest, "especially after a student from Bhiwandi, a suburb of Thane in Maharashtra won the jackpot," claims a Zee insider. A senior advertising professional points out, "The company focussed on the right theme to popularise the genre, insisting on the integrity of the draw, rather than focussing on the lottery as such."
The integrity of the show, and the impossibility of cracking it, were emphasised by a series of advertisments on television. The reason is simple. The lottery industry in India is estimated at $8-10 billion. The irony? Roughly one third, and even half according to some estimates, is fake. The prize money simply does not exist. "This was one thing that Playwin cashed on. Many people who normally do not even look at the lottery are trying it out now. That is one reason for the success," says a senior media planner.
So is the channel finally looking at better times? That is a question that many would like to know the answer to, but it seems that the channel is on the right track, after a long time. © 2002 agencyfaqs!