In our series of special reports on the fast changing UK Asian TV market, media executive and founder of BizAsiaLive.com, Raj Baddhan looks closely at the impact recent Sky changes have had on broadcasters.
Since August 2017, major players Star Plus, ZEE TV, Sony Entertainment Television and Colors have fought in the same package for the first time in UK history. While Star Plus’ share and impacts had fallen prior to the changes, the industry was braced for a bigger decline. However, that is far from what has happened. If anything, Star Plus continues its leap in share and ratings (except Sundays), while other channels constantly fight between themselves, leaving Star Plus to lead outright.
This week, BizAsiaLive.com looks at the 5 big successes, while next week we will focus on the 5 big losses since the changes emerged three months ago.
Humans are not a big fan of changes and this is certainly ringing true for Star Plus, which despite immense competition in the UK market from key players, holds on firmly as the No.1 Asian TV channel. The channel’s reach, which easily remains above the 750,000 mark has been consistent in delivering high daily ratings. Shows like ‘Yeh Hai Mohhabbatein’ (19:30), ‘Chakravyuh’ (20:00) and ‘Naamkarann’ (21:00) have given the channel that stickiness value, which other broadcasters are wanting. Star Plus has managed to create that connect with viewers to ensure they tune in for their favourite shows, no matter how a storyline of a fiction may be dragging on.
Having guaranteed eyeballs tuning in at set time slots is a big challenge for broadcasters not only due to increasing competition on TV but also the explosion of digital OTT apps like Netflix and Amazon. Star Plus still holds on strong, with its weekday fictions and non-fiction shows at the weekend. However, the channel is feeling the pinch on Sundays with its share recently been overtaken by other channels.
While other broadcasters had splashed thousands of pounds on campaigns during the summer to lure viewers in, Star Plus UK ran a more emotional, yet subtle campaign, which seems to have worked a treat. Its simple message of “Come home to Star” featuring the familiar faces from shows was enough to keep viewers hooked to the No.1 Asian TV channel. They were the faces that viewers have been tuning into over the recent years when Star Plus was the only Hindi GEC to be available in the Sky basic pack.
The popular Pakistani broadcaster, Hum Network had announced the summer launch of Hum Masala as a second channel to its already immensley popular service, Hum TV. Hum Network was hoping to increase its share in the market and double up on its ratings. While, this may have happened to an extent, with the launch of Hum Masala, the network seems to have had consolidated its position. Hum TV’s ratings may have fallen slightly but the network’s presence with Hum Masala has further strengthened. It remains by far the UK’s most watched Pakistani TV network.
Some in the industry have said that the launch of Hum Masala has cannibalised the audience of its sister channel, Hum TV but others may differ. With a combined reach of nearly 600,000 viewers, Hum Masala has certainly left a mark. Furthermore, Hum Masala has clearly proven a success with its daytime output. Shows like ‘Handi’ (10:00), ‘Tarka’ (15:00) and ‘Mehboob’s Kitchen’ (11:00) have given viewers a taste of difference, away from the regular fictions being aired on GECs. Not only that but Hum Masala’s evening fiction (re-run of a Hum TV library show) has taken the channel’s ratings by storm – regularly beating off competition from its Pakistani opponents.
Its commonly known in the TV industry that cricket and movies are properties that drive in viewership. Expensive they may be but the returns could pay dividends from sponsorship and garnering huge eyeballs is guaranteed. The viewers known as “floaters” may not be as loyal as viewers who tune into daily shows but Sony MAX’s strategy was somewhat different. At the beginning of August, Sony went full throttle with a campaign based full-on content. As well as promoting the fact that the channel was available as part of the Sky Original Pack, Sony MAX had an edge over its rivals equipped with India V Sri Lanka cricket. Then weeks later, the channel had acquired the rights of the Pakistan V Sri Lanka cricket series. Amongst all this, movie premieres like ‘Baahubali 2’, ‘Hindi Medium’, ‘Raabta’ and a number of old blockbuster titles first time in HD, worked a treat. Sony is paying twice the amount to run both SD and HD versions of not one channel but two – Sony Entertainment Television HD and Sony MAX HD, so the need to drive in viewership and sponsorship is even a bigger gamble for the network.
Sony MAX’s ratings have regularly beaten other Hindi GECs and Bollywood movie channels. The big test lays ahead with the channel now without cricket and relying solely on its movies to attract audiences. Whether it manages to do so, remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure, Sony MAX has managed to stand above its rivals, with clever marketing campaigns and programming tactics like cricket, without disrupting primetime movies.
The South Asian news genre in the UK is dominated by Pakistani news channels. However, dynamics changed when ARY News exited the UK market at the beginning of 2017. Since then, Geo News emerged as the most popular South Asian news channel. However, even Geo News is beginning to lose grip since the August changes, with Indian news channels catching up. NDTV 24×7, which has remained consistently above the 200,000 weekly reach mark, has regularly beaten not only Aaj Tak and ABP News but also Pakistani channels. NDTV 24×7’s share has also increased from 0.1% to 0.03% regularly, giving its rivals a stiff challenge. NDTV 24×7 may not be performing as well in India but has always been a firm favourite in the UK.
With rising competition amongst Hindi and Urdu entertainment channels, niche services like Punjabi entertainment channels were expected to go through a tough time in UK ratings. ZEE Punjabi, which switched into the Sky basic pack in August, has had its weekly reach hovering around the 50-100,000 viewers mark. Its rival, PTC Punjabi has been the surprise package.
The channel has regularly done well over the past three months. Packed with reality shows, religious shows and blockbuster movies including premieres at the weekend, PTC Punjabi has won hearts over. Recently, PTC Punjabi overtook the likes of ZEE TV, Colors and Sony TV in UK ratings after a tremendous performance in UK ratings on one day. PTC Punjabi’s weekly reach currently stands at 258,000 viewers – that’s more than ZEE TV, Star Utsav and Geo TV, amongst others. PTC Punjabi has created that niche to have viewers tuning in on a regular basis for whatever the channel is broadcasting. It has certainly proved to be one of the surprise packages of the summer.
Others worth mentioning:
Sony Entertainment Television – ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ has proved a ratings success for the channel and came at a good time when viewers have been sampling the new channels in the Sky basic pack. As well as the gameshow, ‘Mere Sai’, ‘Yeh Un Dinon Ki Baat Hai’ and ‘Super Dancer’ have also propelled the channel’s ratings.
B4U Music – As a music service, B4U Music has increased its ratings beating even some of the bigger entertainment channels. The channel’s philosophy of broadcasting Bollywood music videos round the clock, seems to be the winning formula.
Star Bharat – Replacing Life OK as Star TV’s second Hindi entertainment channel, Star Bharat has fast become one of the biggest Hindi entertainment channels in the UK. Its shows like ‘Savdhaan India’, ‘Kya Haal Mr Panchaal’ and the recently launched ‘Jiji Maa’ are regularly topping the ratings.
Next week: Special report on The Big 5 Misses since Sky changes