Fifty-two weeks make a year, 7 days make a week and 60 minutes, an hour. For STAR, this number has, more often than not, brought smiles rather than tears. The channel closed the calendar year of 2003 with its prime-time lot leading from the front, backed by its afternoon line-up, and some weekend shows.
The week of 28 December 2003 to January 3, 2004 saw nothing unhinging STAR, which sailed into the New Year singing Kyunki, Kahaani and Kasautii, quite literally. STAR's decision to stick with its prime-time lot - with a mild programming innovation on New Year's Eve - seemed to have augured well for the channel, with episodes of Kasautii, Sanjivani, Kyunki and Kahaani on December 31 registering scores of 9.7, 7.4, 7.2 and 7.2, respectively (source: TAM Media Research, base population: C&S 4+, All India). Sony averaged a score of 2.8 for its Non Stop Hungama, a Bollywood concert on December 31, while viewers seem to have given ZEE's evening out that day a clean miss.
Predictably, the overall tally was as follows: STAR: 61, Sony: 11, with the regulars from the south, the Sun Network-controlled Sun TV and Gemini TV, logging 18 and one (respectively). And STAR Sports, riding high on the nail-biting third India-Australia Test series, with nine entries.
Despite a very steady year for STAR, there were moments when channel executives did feel the jitters, especially with the amount of publicity that went behind Sahara's Karishma, and the innovative marketing strategy adopted by Sony for Jassi. ZEE too was fighting tooth and nail for a place in the sun, with shows such as Astitva - Ek Prem Kahani, Kabhie Kabhie and Chausath Panne. And if not anything, 2003 will be best remembered for the collective effort put in by STAR's rivals to try and shake up the ratings chart in some way or the other. Deepak Segal, senior vice-president, content and communication, STAR India, articulates his feelings on the subject in the following manner, "Everybody would like to see Goliath come down. We have been on the top for so long that I think most derive a vicarious pleasure by nibbling at STAR."
Whatever be the reasons for going for STAR's jugular, the competition shows no sign of letting up. In fact, the challenges for STAR having increased in 2004, what with Sahara going whole hog with its star-spangled prime-time strategy, and Sony buoyant about Jassi. Not to mention the induction of ex-STAR hand Tarun Katial, who, Sony hopes, would the turn the tide for the channel this year.
STAR, meanwhile, would like to keep its focus in place, concentrating on women and kids, its core audience segments. "Our format shows (that is, gameshows/talent shows) are directed at kids and youngsters," says Segal. "While women, who are critical to us, tune in to our soaps," he adds. © 2004 agencyfaqs!