Ananya Saha

What’s in store for SaharaOne after cricket?

The cricket telecast has won SaharaOne the number two position among general entertainment channels for two consecutive weeks, but what’s next?

It’s a jackpot for any Indian broadcaster when it bags the telecast rights for Indian cricket. And so it was with SaharaOne. The channel, which has been struggling for more popularity, has seen an upswing in viewership since the telecast of the India vs England cricket series began.

SaharaOne, which could normally manage a mere 5 per cent share in viewership among the general entertainment channels (GECs), experienced a growth in market share from the very week the cricket telecast started.

For instance, as per the TAM data analysed by agencyfaqs! (C&S, 4+, Hindi Speaking Markets), in Week 8 (February 19-25, the week prior to the cricket series), SaharaOne’s channel share among the GECs was 5.49 per cent. But in Week 9 (February 26-March 4), the channel garnered an 11.64 per cent share.

In the subsequent weeks, SaharaOne experienced further growth in viewership. In week 12 (March 19-25), it surpassed the No. 3 GEC, Sony Entertainment Television (SET), garnering a channel share of 14.39 per cent.

In the following week (Week 13, March 26-April 1), SaharaOne emerged as the number two channel among the GECs, surpassing both Zee and SET with a channel share of 16.66 per cent. In comparison, Zee had a channel share of 15.74 per cent, while SET could manage just 12.88 per cent.

Of course, cricket always spells success, the channel being irrelevant. As Hiren Pandit, GM, Mindshare, Mumbai, says, “The high viewership spells success for cricket, not SaharaOne.”

According to Pandit, this growth in viewership will be short-lived, for it is bound to go down once the cricket is over. He cites the example of SET Max, which attained a high viewership during the Cricket World Cup, but once the event was over, the viewership figures went back to basic.

So, it is expected that there will be a loss in viewership for SaharaOne once the cricket series is over. Now the channel has to ensure that the extent of this loss is minimal. How does SaharaOne plan to do this?

One way could be through more cricket. But then SaharaOne doesn’t have much cricket left in its kitty. All it has now is the EurAsia Cup to be played in Abu Dhabi. And as it has been learnt, it will be the India A team that will play in this series, not Dravid’s boys.

So, what is SaharaOne left with? Purnendu Bose, COO, SaharaOne, reveals his plans, “The cricket telecast has brought in new sets of viewers to the channel. This is why we are using it as a platform to promote the other properties on the channel. This will increase the sampling of our programmes.”

However, close watchers of the industry such as Kajal Malik, regional director, OMS, hold a different view on this. She says, “The people who generally watch SaharaOne and those who are watching it now for the cricket matches are of two different profiles.”

Bose of SaharaOne argues that this wouldn’t act as an obstacle in the further growth of the channel’s viewership. He says, “In a single TV home, any channel is like a hoarding that people are bound to notice while moving in and out.”

Bose adds, “The number of female viewers for cricket has also increased, which is why it wouldn’t be correct to say that the profiles of the viewers are different.”

Some media planners like Basabdutta Chowdhuri, COO, Madison Media Plus, echo Bose’s statement. Chowdhuri says, “The number of women watching cricket must have grown by at least 80 per cent in recent times.”

But what about the channel losing out on male viewers once the cricket matches get over? Bose answers, “Though women are our primary viewers, our aim is to reach out to the whole family, including kids and senior citizens. Our programmes feature the new-age woman and are appealing beyond fragments and segments.”

Chowdhuri of Madison puts in a word of advice. According to her, while men are secondary viewers for all women oriented programmes, to target males specifically, SaharaOne needs more thrillers, game shows or something along the lines of ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’.”

© 2006 agencyfaqs!

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