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Tamil channels battle it out for place under Sun

Sriram Srinivasan

Chennai , May 28

SUN Network's channels still rule the Tamil television airwaves with over three-fourths of viewership share. So what's new? There is an interesting tussle on for the second spot in the general entertainment category, and third overall (KTV, also from the Sun network, is considered a movies channel rather than a general entertainment one).

For those who believe in averages over a significant period of time, Jaya TV holds the second spot for the current year (for January to May 15, 2004) with a viewership share of 7.1 per cent, still way, way behind leader Sun TV, which has added nearly four percentage points to its 2002 number of 50 per cent, according to figures from TAM Media Research.

Vijay, which at one point of time promised to make significant advances in the numbers game through slick programming, has dropped to fourth position at 5.4 per cent, only marginally behind Raj TV, which is at 5.5 per cent. Vijay, which was off air in its main market of Chennai for nearly a month last year owing to differences with multi-system operator SCV, seemed to have done well to reclaim its number two position in July 2003 after the pause, but could only see Jaya increasing its share consistently in the next five months of year at the cost of its own.

Jaya's Vice-President (Marketing) Mr K. Balaswaminathan attributes the channel's success to new programming and lots of event-based content. He says he is confident of increasing his channel's share further, and for this there are plans to revamp content.

That wouldn't be a bad idea, because though the channel's average share has ensured it the second position in 2004, it has seen a close to a 30 per cent month-to-month erosion in viewership in April. Jaya's April share was 5.4 per cent, the same as Raj's and just above Vijay's. The first fifteen days of May has, however, seen Raj taking a quite lead but if Mr Balaswaminathan were to be believed Jaya's share will again head to pre-April levels, as the elections are over.

Overall, KTV is positioned number two with a 17 per cent share, more than double its nearest rival. But the Sun Network's Tamil movie channel has shed around four per cent in two years.

Among other channels, SCV has a 4.3 per cent share, DD's Podhigai has 3.3 per cent while Raj's Digital Plus has 2.5 per cent, according to TAM numbers.

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