Saturday, July 05, 2008

Twinkle twinkle little Star

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Its ‘Star’s are not shining all that brightly and the Ze(e)al’s gone missing too...

For six long years, Zee was the silent number three on the Indian television landscape. In 2006, it sprang back. Number two is its resting point these days. But, the desired destination is number one, which seems everything but out of reach for now. Meanwhile, there’s one player which silently bore the brunt of the Zee-Star face-off – Sony Entertainment Television. Pushed to No.3 today, Sony’s chances for a Zee ishstyle comeback, look very far from sunny.

Smriti Irani ruled Indian tele-tubes as Tulsifor 7 long years. Millions partook in Tulsi’s long journey from a young bride to great grand mom. Though she continued to rule hearts, her youthful exuberance faded with time. And then Smriti bid goodbye to Tulsi. The Tulsi saga is strangely identical to Star Plus’s. In 2000, Star shot to fame with the launch of Kyunkii. The channel stayed put at the spot for all these years, just as Kyunkii did. Just like the character has lost its sheen, the channel is losing mindshare and TRPs.

On the other hand, Zee acquired centre stage via an array of young soaps, displacing Sony on its way to the top slot. The now number three in the race, Sony, neither has established properties like Star nor does it have any fresh ideas to boast of. Ask Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, SET India, about the developments and he says, “It’s a cyclical business. Star Plus which held the unchallenged No.1 position is also coming down pretty fast. The industry is in a state of transition and things will change in the next few months. Of course, we are taking steps to regain our lost position but they will be revealed at the time of fruition.” What is intriguing is that the channel, which competed with Star neck to neck once, is seemingly taking things too easy. Yes! In a spirited show of aggressiveness, Sony did launch its winning property – Indian Idol for the third time recently. The show is managing some eye-balls, but SaReGaMa of Zee (a bigger brand, which features in the top 10 TRP chart) and Star Plus’s newly launched Star Voice of India, are giving tough competition. Sources reveal that a second season of Jhalak Dikhlaja, a popular celeb dance show is in the offing, besides SET betting big on Bollywood to work up its sagging numbers (it is buying rights of many recent releases from Eros and Yash Raj Films).

Sony, in fact, finds itself in a strange quagmire these days. Come September and curtains would have downed on Indian Idol (a show it was banking on to bring it back in the reckoning). And the channel does not seem to have any new answers. While shows like Jhalak Dikhlaga and Bollywood blockbusters guarantee eye-balls, they’ll only go so far to improve the channel ratings. Other also-rans in the race like Sahara One, Star One are so busy giving Sony a run for its eyeballs that it just might end up getting blinded. The situation acquires an urgent tone, taking into account the gamut of new GEC launches coming up. ‘Wait & watch’ may well ring the death knell for the ambitious number 2 player of yore.

Edit bureau: Surabhi Agarwal

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2008

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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