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Advantage Big B

STAR says comparing SRK and Bachchan is like comparing apples and oranges writes Gurbir Singh.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2007 06:49 IST

KBC 3. Pages have been written. Endless comparisons made between Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan. STAR has protested that pitting the two celebrities against each other is unfair, and is like comparing apples and oranges. Mobile phone companies have made a good buck on the flurry of SMS' on the issue. Yet, the controversy continues unabated. So an update may not be a bad idea, and we can assure you this won't be the last word on the subject.

But whichever way you look at KBC 3, can anyone avoid a Big B versus SRK comparison?

From the point of view of STAR Plus as a channel, KBC 3 - even though it is expensive - has been great news. For the 9.00 PM to 10.00 PM crucial primetime slot on which Zee was close to overtaking STAR Plus, KBC 3 has lifted STAR's channel share on weekdays by 33 per cent. Thus, STAR's share among the general entertainment channels has gone up from 42.8 per cent in the week before KBC 3 started (January 14 to 21) to 56.9 per cent, reinforcing its No.1 position. On the other hand, Zee TV, that had a healthy 31 per cent channel share in the 9.00 PM -!0.00 PM slot on weekdays, slipped to 20 per cent in the week when KBC 3 launched.

How is KBC-3 as a show performing? Here the news so far is not too good for STAR Plus. While only one week's data is available from TAM Media, the figures emerging from another TV audience measurement agency - aMap (Audience Measurement & Analytics) for 11 days of the show indicates that KBC 3 is not growing. From an opening in the North West and East markets of 5.5, KBC 3 slipped to 4.2 at the end of the first week on January 25. It started the second week on January 29 at a low 3.6, but grew steadily through the week to 4.6 on February 1.

It started Week 3 lower at 4.2 on February 5, but further slipped to 3.8 on Wednesday, February 7 (See table). TAM Media's second week data is yet to come, but a-Map figures indicate a plateauing audience. The caveat to this is: KBC-3 is a big show and is among the Top performers in Indian television. TAM Media's first week ratings varying between 12.3 and 7.6 are huge. The TVRs are more than Shahrukh Khan movies get on television. Any TV show that gets a TVR of more than 3.0 is considered a success story!

Now comes the tough part. Can we or can we not compare Amitabh Bachchan of August 2005 and SRK of Jan-Feb 2007? And if we do, how do they measure up?

STAR's spokespersons have said there is no comparison. There is the CAS factor now taking away viewers from the SRK show. There are more channels now and more fragmentation of eyeballs. TAM Media covered 80 cities then. It covers over 130 cities now. We can add a few too: The cultural situation is different now - When KBC launched in July 2000, there were no reality shows, there was a novelty about a great game show.

"KBC-2 was a weekend show when there were fewer soaps. KBC-3 is a weekday show," warns a-Map's Jiniti Shah. Yet there can be no denying STAR has trapped itself into a SRK/Big B comparison. The game show is identical. The format, produced by Celidor of UK, has not been changed for SRK. The two anchors perform the same functions. AND the two anchors are the country's two biggest celebrities. In the minds of viewers too, the comparison between the two anchors is now commuter chatter. So why deny the media the right to assess who performed better?

At the technical level too, a show is judged by its TVRs. The Television Viewership Rating indicates the percentage of all TV viewers who watched the show for its whole duration. The TVR measure is the same whether in 2000, 2005 or 2007.

So considering everything, SRK opened on Monday, January 22 with a TVR of 12.33, lower than Big B's KBC-2 opening on August 5, 2005 with 19.75. On reach, SRK got 4.5 million more eyeballs (SRK's 23.3 million versus Big B's 18.8 million), says STAR.

"Reach is those who walk into a show for one minute or more. It indicates the success of promoting and marketing a show. TVR on the other hand indicates those who stayed with the show for the whole duration," said LV Krishnan, CEO of TAM Media.

"We have to factor in the fact that CAS has now restricted viewership to just 25 percent of pay channels in CAS areas. Also the indications are that SRK is more popular in the metros, while Bachchan is more of a mass icon," Krishnan added. TAM Media figures also show that Gen Next - the 15-24 year olds - preferred SRK. What's the audit for the first 11 episodes for which a-Map has provided data for the 3 cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata? On an episode versus episode comparison, in Delhi and Kolkata, Amitabh Bachchan was ahead of Shahrukh Khan for all 11 episodes so far. In Mumbai, save for Episode No. 6 on January 30 when SRK beat the Big B's ratings and on Episode 8 when they drew even with a TVR of 5.6, the Big B was ahead on the remaining 9 days.

The TAM Media ratings are yet to come for these dates, and the story down the line could change too.

First Published: Feb 09, 2007 06:49 IST