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Media watch: difficult road in New Year?

Who knew by the end of 2008, Star and Zee would not be fighting with each other for the top spot in the pecking order of general entertainment channels (GECs)?

business Updated: Dec 24, 2008 21:46 IST
Saurabh Turakhia

Who knew by the end of 2008, Star and Zee would not be fighting with each other for the top spot in the pecking order of general entertainment channels (GECs)? Instead the year saw the two behemoths fighting off tough competition from newer channels such as NDTV Imagine, INX Media’s 9X and Viacom 18’s Colors.

NDTV Imagine and 9X are spearheaded by proven talent. Sameer Nair was CEO Star Entertainment before he chose to head NDTV Imagine and Peter Mukerjea was CEO of Star Group India before he ventured into setting up his own media house INX Media.

On the other hand Colors, which was launched in July 2008, was the underdog—its meteoric rise taking the industry by surprise.

Analysts attribute Colors’ success to its different content. “Other networks have also aggressively marketed their programmes, but Colors did take a risk with newer more energetic formats and that paid off,” said Lynn de Souza, chairman and CEO, Lintas Media Group.

Colors’ most popular programmes include reality shows Fear Factor-Khatron Ke Khiladi and Bigg Boss and family drama Balika Vadhu.

2008 though has been a year that Star Plus would rather forget. The channel’s much-hyped quiz show Kya aap paanchvi paas se tez hai failed to get satisfactory grades despite being anchored by Shah Rukh Khan. Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi that had ruled the TRP charts for over eight years also came to an end. The reason, slipping TRPs.

On the bright side though, towards the end of the year Star inked a joint venture with Jupiter Entertainment Ventures to
form Star Jupiter Entertainment, which would hold majority stake in AsiaNet Communications that broadcasts general entertainment channels in South Indian languages.

The year also saw radio gaining popularity as an advertising medium.

But this is where the good news ends. Analysts feel that media may have a difficult 2009 with the last quarter for the financial year 2008-09 showing a more pronounced impact of the financial crisis. With many advertisers already cutting back on spends, the coming months will test the pockets of media houses.

Advertisers in banking, finance and insurance space have been badly hit by the slowdown and discouraging movements in the Sensex. “Restrictions during election time will further hurt media,” Sinha added. However, radio, which is already an evident threat to print in certain areas, and mobile, with over 300 million subscribers point to an untapped potential.

“Mobile, with its reach is larger than print or television though it is yet not very conducive to marketing communications. That will change soon, with more Internet enabled phones and it’s a big revolution waiting to happen, with the youth having lapped up the medium so fast and so well,” said Chandradeep Mitra, president of Mudra MAX.