Shamni Pande

Has Vijay TV got its comeback strategy right?

Is Vijay TV’s performance after going on a blink for over a month just a flash in the pan? Can it hold its own after CAS? These are some of the questions rankling media planners

STAR Vijay must be mighty happy with itself. It's been just about four weeks that the STAR bouquet has got back on the Tamil Nadu airwaves (after being off-air since April this year over payment issues with Sumangali Cable Vision), and the channel is firmly ensconced at the No 3 position in SEC ABC homes (10-plus age group, according to TAM Media ratings), after SUN and KTV. In the period May 11-24, according to TAM analysis, Vijay had a channel share of 5.15 per cent, followed by Jaya TV at 4.96 per cent, and Raj with 3.75 per cent (the top two being SUN and KTV).

The bad news, however, is that if one considers its share in all C&S homes, Vijay seems to have slipped to the No 5 slot. While it is true that Jaya TV has gained tremendous ground at the No 4 slot at the cost of Vijay, but to be back among the Top 3 after being absent for a month-and-a-half speaks volumes about Vijay's holding power in SEC ABC homes. "We have had to build ourselves all over again, having been off-air for one-and-a-half month. However, the Jackie Chan film festival and the AR Rahman shows have worked the magic for us," says a STAR Vijay spokesperson.

A few of STAR Vijay properties have lost out in the bargain though. Kavyanjali, one of Vijay's top soaps, has simply lost steam. Some other programmes are being put through "creative edits" and are being "beefed up". In other words, each of the long running serials are being given a quick story-so-far-type snapshot to give viewers a gist of the earlier episodes (in case they have lost track), before coming back to the present.

Some new serials have been introduced as well. Salanam (obsession), produced by UTV, went on air last week and is aired between 7.30 and 8.00 pm. Soap Kavyanjali has now gone to the next generation and has also changed hands - from being produced by Balaji Telefilms to Creative Eye - and is aired at 8.00-8.30 pm. This is followed by Neen Naan Aval at 8.30-9.00 pm. The channel's reality show Kadai allam Nijam (all stories are real) has now come into the prime-time band of 9.00-10.00 pm (it is also aired in the afternoons, from 12 o'clock to1.00 pm). But clearly, the saving grace has been the seven-week long Jackie Chan film festival launched in mid-May and the AR Rahman shows aired on May 18 and 25.

"The first Jackie Chan Movie aired on May 17 fetched us a TVR of 9.6 in Chennai in the SEC ABC (4-plus age group). We are thrilled with the response and hope to show Josh (dubbed in Tamil) some time down the line," says the channel spokesperson.

In all this, a question remains: Is this just a flash in the pan? Can Vijay hold its own under the CAS regime? Siddharth Jadav, planning manager, Maximize India, opines, "So far so good. But Vijay TV will have to consider the CAS issue seriously. It may not be able to hold its position if it continues to be a pay channel, given that channels from the SUN Network are free-to-air." Most observers expect that consumers who eventually buy set-top boxes would be those in the SEC A and B homes, those who want their daily dose of Discovery, STAR, HBO etc. "That is where regional channels, especially those that retain the pay status, will lose out," says an observer. After all, SUN and KTV continue to hold 55 per cent of the market.

Vijay, it seems, has a long haul ahead. © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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