The Failure of Zee's Sawaal Dus Crore Ka

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR004
Case Length : 9 Pages
Period : 1991 - 2001
Organization : Zee TV, Star TV
Pub Date : 2001
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : India
Industry : Media and Entertainment

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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The Star Offensive - KBC

When Star Plus was launched, it offered drama, comedy, talk shows, documentaries and mystery movies solely in English.

However, the channel failed to become as popular as the channels offering programs in Hindi. Star realized that it was handicapped by its image of being a foreign channel catering only to the cosmopolitan English speaking population. To increase its presence in the Indian market Star began a daily two-hour Hindi program band. Star Plus' move to 'go Indian' met with a mixed response from the viewers. While fans of the earlier programming mix lashed out strongly against the channel, the media described this as Star's desperate attempt to garner viewership. Though initially the move was criticized, Star Plus' smart and consumer oriented programming (a mix of soaps and Bollywood based programs) won over the viewers...

The Zee Defensive - SDCK

KBC's success changed the ground rules in the TRP race between the television channels. Zee TV had to pool all its resources to combat the effect of KBC. Zee even changed the timings of its popular prime time soaps.

To lure back the audience lost due to the KBC effect, Zee launched its Malamaal interactive contest. However, the promotion did not do the trick for Zee, and the KBC menace continued to eat into its TRP ratings and ad revenues. It was at this time that Zee TV decided that it had to come out with a program, which could match KBC. Thus was born Sawal Dus Crore Ka (SDCK). Zee seemed to have hit the wrong note from the very beginning, when it decided to make SDCK a replica of KBC with Anupam Kher and Manisha Koirala as anchors. To lure away KBC viewers, Zee decided to feed on their greed by offering prize money of Rs 100 million to the winner, as against KBC's Rs 10 million, giving the show a tremendous response initially...

Reality Bites

In January 2001, all the Star channels were blocked for two weeks by cable operators getting their feed from Siticable, cable network. Media reports indicated that SDCK's failure had prompted Zee to use its arm Siticable, to harm KBC's TRPs by preventing it from reaching viewers. (Another view was that Star, riding high on the success of KBC, demanded higher payment for relaying its channels and stopped feeding them to operators, mainly Siticable, who refused to oblige.) Though Star's viewership did suffer as Siticable commanded 17% of the cable business, it stood its ground, forcing Zee to make peace. Following this, Siticable officials had a meeting with Star officials and reached an agreement to restore Star channels...


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