The battle for a bigger slice of prime time viewing is truly on!
According to an e-mail reply received in response to some questions from domain-B, Zee TV claims to be reaping the benefits of the game show introduced recently. Titled, "Zee Malamaal", the interactive contest was launched by the channel as its response to the overwhelmingly popular Kaun Banega Crorepati, or KBC, on rival Star Plus channel. KBC had singlularly demolished the advertising revenues of all major channels for the prime time between 9.00 and 10.00 p.m. But, if the company reply is to be believed, the Malamaal contest has had a positive impact on Zee TV's TRP ratings for the month of August.
KBC was launched on Star TV on July 2, 2000 in the prime time band between 9.00 p.m. and 10.00 p.m.. Aired four days a week, this program, with a prize money of Rs 1 crore and Bollywood's legendary superstar, Amitabh Bacchhan, to anchor it, has swept the country off its feet. Based on a similarly hugely successful program in the US, titled "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", this program is, perhaps, the only program after the mythological epics, Mahabharat and Ramayana, to hold such sway over the country.
In the two months that the program has been on, KBC has swept away rival programs much like the storm near the Orissa coastlines! While it sent their prime time TRP ratings of rival channels crashing, its own Star channels saw the TRPs soar high. (TRP, or television rating points, is an industry system of evaluating the popularity of a television channel's program. Usually conducted by an independent agency, the ratings are given after collating data from several respondents across disparate strata of society. In India, there are two organisations, Tam and Intam, who conduct this research and provide television channels with TRPs. While the overall methodology remains the same, the two reports give differing views on the same program. Both reports are used by television channels, depending on their suitability to the channel editor)
Prior to July, when Star TV introduced the KBC program, the Intam report suggested that Star TV was a distant third in the ratings sweepstake, with Zee and Sony accounting for 23 and 24 programs out of the top 50. Star Plus accounted for a mere three in the top 50 list. However, for the first week that KBC was introduced, Star Plus featured in the top 50 on all four days KBC was aired. From 5.96 TVR or television rating point on July 3 KBC's viewership almost tripled to 15.28 TVR on July 27 (Intam eight city figures).
Disguised as a birthday celebration, Zee TV hit back by introducing its own version of the game show, title Zee Malamaal. This format required Zee viewers to watch all Zee programs Monday to Friday from 7.55 p.m. to 10 p.m. and answer questions based on the content of the program. With ten questions and each question worth Rs 1 lakh, the total prize money per ten questions is Rs 11 lakh. Small change, compared to Star's bonanza, but nevertheless, according to Zee, top draw. The channel claims that it receives 7 lakh phone calls each day. Apart from generating viewer interest, this format forces viewers to see the entire program on the channel. The winner is selected by a draw that is overseen by noted auditing firm, Ernst & Young.
Zee TV has used the Intam report to state that just one program, Amanat, aired at the same time as KBC on Star, has managed to get higher TRPs in August. Despite the fact that KBC has been gaining significant advertising, proved by the many and long breaks for advertising spots, Zee TV claims that it is not unduly worried about advertisement revenues.
According to the e-mail reply sent to domain-B, the channel claims that in revenue terms they have done better in July this year, as compared to the same period last year. The channel also claims that they are ahead in August. Even while the channel has been trying to reduce commercial clutter at prime time, it claims that advertising seconds across all time bands -- afternoon, all day and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. -- have registered an unprecedented growth. According to the company, the actual duration of commercial spots in prime time – which the channel defines as between 7.00 p.m and 11.00 p.m. -- has, in fact, increased by 7 % as compared to the previous year. (The industry does not necessarily define "prime time" as being between the above hours that Zee considers. In most channels, the prime time is considered to be between 8.00 p.m and 10.00 p.m.-editor)
The company claims that, while fluctuation of TRPs are bound to happen, its penetration across the country is higher than that of Star TV, thanks to the large number of small cities and towns where, the company states, that Star is not viewed. The channel claims that the latest IRS figures indicate that Zee's viewership is still strong at 19.2 million homes, as compared to 13.6 million homes of Star TV.
To the final question from domain-B, as to whether the channel will introduce a better game show, slightly modelled on the KBC program, or whether it will revamp existing programs with more well know names as anchors, the channel can only say "Wait and Watch".