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Amitabh Bachchan sinks Star TV

The abrupt ending of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC-II) due to anchor Amitabh Bachchan's ill-health late last year has affected revenue growth of STAR TV Asia by 6-10%, reveals the latest report from Hong Kong-based research company Media Partners Asia.

While STAR network Asia was cruising at 20-30% revenue growth in first and second quarters of 2005-06 largely thanks to the the healthy advertising growth in STAR India, for the quarter ended March, 2006, the company registered only 14% revenue growth to $123 million.

"In Asia, STAR Group's operating income grew 28% year-on-year to reach almost $30 million, while turnover grew 14% to reach $123 million for the quarter," the report said.

The report cited KBC-II's absence as the primary reason for the decline in STAR Asia's revenue growth. "Revenue growth of 14% was below previous quarters (20%-30% in Q1 and Q2) due to an earlier than expected closure of the second season of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" on STAR Plus," the MPA report said.

KBC's first series of 309 episodes went on air in the middle of 2000 and met with phenomenal success. Its second innings of scheduled 85 episodes was launched in August 2005 and was supposed to go on till the end of February 2006 before the superstar anchor fell ill in early December.

Industry reports suggested the KBC-II was an even bigger commercial success than its earlier avtaar. Even before the launch, it managed to book over Rs 100 crore of advertising from sponsors and was estimated to rake in an additional Rs 55-60 crore in ad-spots. The per-10 seconds advertising spots were being sold for Rs 5-6 lakhs, making it one of the biggest money-spinning shows on Indian television.

The abrupt ending of KBC-II proved good for rivals Zee and Sony too, industry observers said. Since February, Zee TV, the entertainment channel from Zee Group, has been consistently getting higher ratings over Sony on several days during the prime time viewing band, TAM reports have confirmed that. Sony, too, managed to extend the popularity of `India Idols' with extended series to cash-in on the void created by KBC-II absence, industry sources pointed out.

The MPA report, however, indicates that STAR will bounce back with its reinforced programming strategy, especially with the success of STAR One and STAR Gold. The report also highlights a possible growth area for STAR in its proposed venture in direct-to-home segment through Tata Sky.



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