Prajjal Saha

Film-based programmes drive Zoom

Film-based programming seems to be driving viewership for the channel; but some media planners think it is cause for worry

TAM figures indicate it's film-based programming that is driving viewership for Zoom, the newly launched channel from the Times Group. Going by the data supplied by the television and radio rating agency, between October 20 and November 20, five out of the Top 10 programmes on Zoom were based on movies and movie music (for C&S, 15-plus audiences in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata).

Check this out. Mirchi Top 20, a countdown show is the No 1 programme for the channel reaching out to 3.2 lakh viewers (TAM says its too early to go by TVR figures, reach being a better indicator). At No 2 is Zoom Chaka Chak, again a film-based show, which has a reach of 2.3 lakh viewers. Page 3, which is a film-based magazine show, is ranked at No 4, reaching out to 2.2 lakh viewers. At No 5 is Bole To, another show based on film songs, and reaching about 2 lakh viewers.

It may be too early to draw conclusions, but the opening figures certainly point to a trend. Does this reliance on film-based shows bode well for the channel? The jury is out on that one.

For one, Hiren Pandit, general manager, MindShare says, ?I don't consider this trend negative. The film and the glamour industry have always been Times group's strength and it has tried to leverage this strength even for their television venture.? He thinks the strategy has worked to the extent of generating initial eyeballs.

But will it help Zoom in the long term? The media planning fraternity seems to have some reservations here. Says Sandeep Tarkas, chief executive, Optimum Media Direction, ?That its only film-based shows that are working for the channel should be a matter of concern. It means that basic format shows which have a longer life and can drive a channel long term are not making any impression.?

Although the channel has roped in an entire bunch of celebrities to host its various shows ? such as Yana Gupta, Kamal Sidhu, Dipannita Sharma, Pooja Bedi, Manish Malhotra and Simone Singh ? they are yet to cut ice. Tarkas says, ?Zoom was positioned as lifestyle channel, but the problem is that in the industry it is now being conceived as a celebrity channel.?

Such a strategy has its drawbacks. A celebrity per se cannot change the fortunes of a channel. Says Tarkas, ?Even in the past we have seen big time celebrities failing to drive a show.? What Amitabh Bachchan did for STAR Plus is the stuff history is made of. But both Madhuri Dixit and Govinda failed to move audiences as Sony found out much to its dismay.

Although film-based shows are currently generating viewership for Zoom, Pandit says the channel needs to experiment with its programming and bring in a fresh perspective every now and then. Adds Tarkas, ?It is very necessary for a niche channel to increase viewer involvement. And film-based shows can never increase quality viewing as viewers keep switching channels during countdown shows or film trailers.?

Partho Ghosh, vice-president, The Media Edge, agrees: ?The current set of celebrity hosts on Zoom represent a judicious mix. But even if the channel targets the premium end of the market, it needs to generate wider viewership to finally convert into the revenues required to sustain the business.?

? 2004 agencyfaqs!

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