Prajjal Saha

Guha's charm at work: ZEE topples Sony in channel sweepstakes

Thanks to events and films, ZEE has finally upstaged Sony after five years. Now, the bigger challenge for ZEE would be to cement its position as the regular number two

Stars – both celestial and of tinsel town's – are proving lucky for ZEE. After some five years of lacklustre performance and conceding market share to first STAR and then Sony, ZEE has risen like the proverbial phoenix. And, all of this started happening on the night of March 26 when ZEE organised its film awards night in faraway London.

Call it the star-appeal of Bollywood or the effects of a particularly benign planetary position, ZEE has definitely made a comeback during week 14 of 2005 (March 27 to April 2) and managed to topple Sony as the number two channel.

Before going to the hows and whys of the resurrection, a quick look at the statistics. As per TAM Media Research (C&S, 4+, Hindi speaking markets, week 14 of 2005), ZEE managed a channel share of 19 per cent with an average TVR of 0.52 (all day). In comparison, Sony's market share was 18 per cent with an average TVR of 0.49.

In week 13, ZEE's channel share was 14 per cent with an average TVR of 0.40, while Sony clocked a 17 per cent share with an average TVR of 0.48.

Result: During week 14, while Sony has posted a slight gain of one percentage point, ZEE has surged ahead with a gain of 5 percentage points.

What's interesting is STAR Plus has actually helped ZEE to beat Sony. Here's how. During week 14, India's number one channel STAR Plus declined by five percentage points from week 13. In week 14, STAR Plus' share was 55 per cent with an average TVR of 1.54, while during week 13, it had a 60 per cent share with an average TVR of 1.69. Media planners, despite repeated queries, couldn't provide any satisfactory explanation to why STAR Plus slipped.

Instead, what most of them said, Sony should now feel threatened, despite the fact that ZEE's gain has not been Sony's loss – at least not directly

Anita Nayyar, executive director, Starcom says, “Since the last six months, ZEE has been snapping at Sony's heels. But with ZEE toppling Sony in this particular week, Sony's clear number two position is certainly threatened.” She feels that the launch of a couple of new shows and beefed-up marketing strategies by ZEE has contributed to this gain.

The new shows may have contributed to the surge in popularity, but ZEE Cine Awards and a rather innocuous film – Taarzan: The Wonder Car - have been the real steroids for ZEE. The film certainly did wonders for the channel and was the top performing show with a TVR of 3.26. ZEE Cine Awards was the second biggest scorer for the channel with a TVR of 3.1. New shows such as 'Tumhari Disha' and 'Sindoor Tere Naam Ka' managed a TVR of 2.13 and 1.84, respectively.

CVL Srinivas, managing director, MAXUS India, says, “I expect to see a close fight for the number two position in the coming months. There has been a sudden spurt of activities at ZEE. The change in logo is one. But the biggest challenge for ZEE would be to maintain this viewership growth. And, if the channel is successful in doing so over the next few weeks, the tide will certainly turn in ZEE's favour.”

Gopinath Menon, head - media, TBWA India, is less gung-ho over the recent statistics. “Sony's position in the channel sweepstakes would have been threatened only if ZEE's regular programmes had performed better than Sony's. In reality, one-time shows such as movies and events were the top-scoring shows for the channel. These cannot be treated as a benchmark for eternal popularity.” Menon prefers to wait for a few more weeks before announcing his verdict.

Satyajit Sen, associate vice-president, MediaCom, offers a piece of advice. He feels that following the current trend, ZEE should further strengthen its weekend programming to continue beating Sony. He says, “It's very difficult to beat STAR Plus' monopoly during the weekdays. But if ZEE is able to have more movies and events on weekdays, it can probably be a close contender for the number two position.”

ZEE, in the recent past, has changed its movie premiere slot from Thursdays to Saturdays, which was described as a “wise move” by media planners.

Sen offers an explanation for the astonishing figures of flop-movie 'Taarzan...” He says, “Being a weekend programme and this being a kids-oriented movies, children may have contributed to the viewership by inspiring the whole family to watch the movie.”

Quite a few media planners also feel that the expertise of Pradeep Guha, CEO, ZEE Telefilms, has definitely led to a spurt in marketing activities, which has contributed to this growth. © 2005 agencyfaqs!

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