Author: GV Krishnamurthy – Story Teller / Broadcast, Digital and Brand Consultant
A market and geography bordered and influenced by Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi, layered with Bangalore a market with less Kannada viewing population, Welcome to Kannada Television. Channels like Sun (Tamil GEC) had high viewership numbers than the Kannada channel Udaya from the same network way back in 1997. The national Hindi channels straddled in viewership charts. Cricket too dominated & performed outstandingly well.
This story is also of a channel that ruled closed to two decades that is now struggling and is pegged at no 4 that could be a Case Study for other channels in various markets.
What changed the Content offerings in this market?
We are known for a long time how Suvarna initiated new approach and pioneered in creating contents that are fresh and trendsetters. Kannada market used to get as low as Rs50,000/- per episode Production cost (Prime Time 30 mins slot), it is Suvarna which opened the gate and started producing contents beyond 1 lac per episode, when the results started reflecting on numbers, Some of the rich quality programming on Suvarna changed the industry standards in terms of production value and thereby in the quality of Kannada viewership it delivered. They were the first Channel to innovate, identify what works for which TG and therefore what is required. It had a program line up that was completely differentiated from what it was presented to the audience by the market leaders of those days.
How others picked it from there on…?
Immediately Zee Kannada followed the same strategy and grabbed a sizable volume of viewership in Kannada GEC Market, It was in 2015 the day ETV got renamed as Colors Kannada everything changed and it draws a huge gap between No. 1 and No. 2 as Viacom18 changed the whole perception of Kannada Market. There started the competition and the first regional market to see the big budget program like KBC and Bigg Boss, further fortifying the new age approach to content creation with Team of Young Professionals (with an average age of 26 Plus) who had displayed their Zeal for content creation in a very passionate manner. It was this Zeal and passion that has driven the channel to dominate the market with at most supremacy. The wonder is, Colors Kannada team could do this with minimum dependence on satellite rights and by maximizing their spend towards creating quality content on Fiction and Non-Fiction Front. This Trend soon became the new norm of the market, thus setting a new benchmark in the market with which Zee Kannada, Star Suvarna and Colors Kannada are warring among each other event today, while Udaya is still lacking in the race.
Transformation in to a viable ROI market..!
When the market was considered small in the south in terms of revenue with a bold decision Suvarna launched KBC Kannada version, advertisers had the option to invest monies in the channel. Though it was not viable ROI but helped the channel to grow. Zee took cognizance of the competition and acted very fast with a clear purpose to give run for money to others. The changes however far reaching didn’t draw success for a long time but it did bear fruit after a couple of course corrections, keeping Zee approach of always working with a two edge sword i.e.., Fiction and Non-Fiction separately.
On the Other-hand their business model and lack of strategy to ramp up with the changing equations probably brought Udayadown to No 4.
How GRP got Doubled…!
The Kannada GEC market of 800 GRPs got doubled to 1600 GRP. The reason can be off for the restriction of airing dubbed content; this has led to air new strong storyline, top film industry celebrities anchoring, giving an opportunity to fresh talent and glamorous artist, room for directors and technicians, grand sets. As a strategic move, it can be dubbed to other regional and national channels and can be an opportunity for syndication and P&L for network channels.
During my stints with a leading Network, a well planned strategical move to sell a fiction property for the first time for a never heard of in South India television ad rate of @30k pts, I was questioned and laughed by industry. Currently, a top channel in a small market like Karnataka is selling their fiction programs @ over 32k – 35k pts and has helped to grow in size of revenue for the market.
Recently during a research conducted to focus groups, viewers across tier 1 and tier 2 cities of Karnataka the key points found were:
- Indication of all were same what and why most people watch the top serial/program
- Some mention the program name but don’t recollect the name of the channel. (lowbrand recall)
- Throughout the discussion, certain top channel and their program were not mentioned at all. (by viewers)
The above are few points too many of our thorough study.
I conclude saying in a current scenario there is… and is there a scope for one more GEC in Kannada market…, will the magic spell of Colors Kannada to continue to other south markets. Let’s wait and watch…!!!
Like always, I keep saying Innovate don’t Renovate to revive the brand/product.
Author: GV Krishnamurthy is widely known in the media fraternity as GVK. With a cumulative experience of around two plus decades in Southern media markets across multiple functions of a strategist, analyst, content management, sales and marketing in media business.