What changes when a leading channel becomes number two, or the second becomes #1? Campaign India finds out.
They say there is space for only one player at the top. But if you were to adapt that saying to the Indian GEC market, what happens when the difference between the number one and number two player is significantly reduced? STAR Plus has maintained a clear lead over competition ever since it gained market share in the general entertainment space after toppling then number one player Sony Entertainment in July 2000, few weeks after it became a 24 hour Hindi channel.
Currently, the steady number two GEC Colors from the Viacom 18 stable, has made no bones about their ambitions for the prestigious number one slot. Since it launched in July 2008, the channel has come as close to STAR Plus as 6 GRPs. In such a case, where the number two has been consistently close behind the number one player, what is the psychological advantage of being number one? Campaign India spoke to a cross section of media and marketing folks to find out.
Mediaedge:cia’s Shubha George says the premium that the number one channel commands comes into play when it has performed consistently, with a reasonable gap. She adds, “Otherwise, both the number one and number two become replaceable, reducing the price premium they command. The channel that is on a growth path is important to advertisers. When a channel adds viewers week on week, the ranking will follow. In a situation like what we have in GECs, where no channel is irreplaceable, consistency and growth are the two prime factors.”
IMX’s Sejal Shah believes that the benefit that the top GEC player offers is in consistency of reach spread out across time bands. The number two was more likely to have high yield on the top two to three programmes. She says, “In terms of effective rates the difference could be between 25-33% higher for the number one GEC. On yield, the number one GEC would enjoy a better balance across programmes while the number two would have high yield on the top two to three programmes. Then the gap for other programmes would widen considerably. The challenge really then is how to balance that gap.”
Radar’s LS Krishnan believes that while the difference between 280 and 300 GRP may not be significant, (according to the latest TAM figures) however, “it may so happen that the number one GEC is leading in multiple time slots. It also means that the channel has more number of programmes in its armory to build high viewership/reach for the brands.”
Max New York’s Anisha Motwani says the GEC category has evolved from channel differentiation to programme differentiation. As a marketer, she feels programming fit is more critical than GRPs. “As a marketer, the channel is incidental. In some ways the number one GEC is at a disadvantage, having operated at certain rates. For them to reduce further is tough, compared to the number two, who by virtue of starting on a zero basis, can give attractive and effective rates.”
Anisha Motwani, ex. VP- mktg & CMO - new mkts, Max New York Life
“At a fundamental level, one does not see a conceptual advantage to the number one GEC. The category has evolved from channel differerentiation to programme differentiation from a client’s perspective. As a marketer, I wouldn’t pay a premium for the number one channel. In some ways it’s a disadvantage. They have operated at certain rates, which are difficult to reduce further. For newer channels which are a close second, because they are starting ona zero basis, they are able to give attractive and effective rates. I would be more willing to pay a premium on the program fit than channel fit. The channel is incidental.”
LS Krishnan, president, Mudra Radar
“The difference between 280 and 300 GRP may not be much, but it may be that the number one GEC is leading in multiple time slots. It may also mean that the channel has more programmes to build high viewership/reach. The programmes in the top two channels cater to masses, their viewership patterns are stable. So, in case of a new communication or brand launch, they are used for rapid awareness build-up. The number two normally tries to give the same viewership at a cheaper cost. But from a media planners’ point of view, a channel must have stable viewing and also enough width of high reach programmes than just one programme.”
Shubha George, MD, Mediaedge:cia
“The premium that the number one GEC commands comes into play when the channel has been consistently number one and enjoys a reasonable gap.
If this is not the case, both the players become replaceable, reducing the price premium that they command. The channel that is on a growth path is important to advertisers. When a channel adds viewers week on week, the ranking will follow. In a situation like what we have in the GEC space, where no channel is irreplaceable, consistency and growth are prime factors. The perception game is played more through tentpole successes than ranking in my opinion.”
NP Sathyamurthy, president, COO- West, Lintas Media Group
“It does not matter what the channel rankings are. However the cost efficiency of individual programs enables us to allot a particular part of the spend to a particular channel. That’s what dictates the investment with a channel for a brand campaign. However, higher the ranking, higher is the proportion of the investment as the value additions can be enhanced by a particular brand campaign. If you ask any planner, between the top three GECs, channel one, two and three are more or less at par. We look at them with equal importance. Four, five and six may take a lower rung in terms of the selection process.”
Sejal Shah, vice president, India-west and south, IMX
“In terms of effective rates the difference could be between 25-33% higher for the number one GEC. On yield, the number one GEC would enjoy a better balance across programmes while the number two would have high yield on the top two to three programmes. The gap for other programmes would widen considerably. The challenge is in balancing that gap. The advertising push for the top GEC is huge but if the gap is very narrow it may not translate into an unshakeable position. We would look at achieving plan objectives and we do believe that a spread across channels is better rather than most eggs in one basket.”