Strategic Decision: A case of NDTV Imagine's Ramayan


Bhuwan Shrivastava
Asst. Professor
Shivalik Institute of Management Education and Research

The year 2008 had and is going to have one of the biggest blasts in the Indian Television scenario. The beginning of the same saw some of mega launches in terms of Channels. To name them UTV Bindass, Zee next, 9x and NDTV Imagine are from the basket of biggies in the game of entertainment industry in India.

UTV Bindass has the parent holding of UTV India with GenX Entertainment Ltd as its SBU. While Zee next is the extension of thinking of Zee Telefilms Ltd to grab the market share in the highly competitive environment 9x is the Channel launched by INX Media Pvt. Ltd. NDTV imagine is the organisation having the majority stake of NDTV Ltd and Karan Johar's Dharma Production Ltd as the minority stake holder.

Television industry in India was characterized by daily soaps, family drama etc. The master of the game was Star Plus and Zee Telefilms Ltd with the market share of 70%. It is imperative that once the player is market leader in any of the segment, the new entrant is definitely going to have the problem in penetrating the market. These wordings holds true especially for Indian television market which was leaded by Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki and Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, a product of Star Plus.

With this stance advertisers were also not ready to have their investment gets diverted in some other avenues. Thus the scenario for the new entrant was not encouraging enough to have a proper stand in the market. The concept of niche channel came into existence here only, with catering only limited segment of audience. Though the market was small but the television companies were optimistic with the offering as they can have the appropriate advertisers to sponsor their show, as they were going to have the targeted audience as compared to the general, mass channel viz. Star plus and Zee TV. The launch of UTV Bindass was pitched on this scale only. Zarina Mehta CEO UTV Bindass is bit reluctant to denote them as a "General Entertainment Channel", according to Zarina Mehta they are the youth channel targeted at the entertainment for the youth only.

The problem for NDTV imagine was still there as they were not going to have the targeted audience as that of UTV Bindass, nor they have the established offering like Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki et al. It is the issue of no doubt that general entertainment segment counts for 30 % of total viewer ship, the competition is going to take more darker colour as there are more TV channels lined up from giants like Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, Viacom 18 and one from Turner International India Pvt Ltd.

Looking at the situation the best way to enter the general entertainment market was to have the differentiation in the offering. With Samir Nair as the head of the organisation, who earlier had the success in establishing the Star Plus in India with the offering like KBC, and the backup of Karan Johar, NDTV Imagine managed to grab the prime band in the cable network scenario, in maximum of the places.

With the same nature of offering from the market leaders, Star Plus and Zee TV, the soap opera, NDTV Imagine chose to have the mythological way. But the mythological path was not so easy as it was thought as earlier the attempt by the market leaders didn't generated any good results. The choice of Ramayan was made. But in the market like India which is characterized by the skepticism in accepting the remake version of the older offering in the entertainment scenario, the choice with Ramayan was not so easy. Therefore in this situation Sagar Arts was the best decision for the same, who created the landmark in Indian Television scenario through there offering some 20 years ago in the national network through Ramayan. The theme and the nature of the offering was kept on the same level as it was then in the earlier offering, but with certain modification. The intentional effort was to give the viewer the same feeling which they had then. That is why the use of special effect and the graphics are of the same nature as that of older version. Another benefit which this serial had was that of experience of Sagar Arts of producing the same offering. but while doing so the behaviour of younger and much younger generation was not left untouched. The choice of lord Ram (Gurmeet Chowdhary) and other character gave a fresh feeling to the final product. The result is the viewer ship of wide range which starts from four only.

In order to ensure the acceptance of the offering, the aggressive and heavy promotion campaign was launched even in smaller cities which was absent in case of market leaders. The awareness was created and thus the promise was delivered.

The result is very clear, in the first 13 days of its launch NDTV imagine had the market share of 2.2 % where as the contemporary channels managed to have 0.4% in case of UTV Bindass & Zee next and 9x managed to have 0.9% according to Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd, a viewer tracking firm.

But the story is not going to have the smooth sailing for long, as there are other threats are lined up, the prominent of which is the 150 episode Mahabharat by market giant Star Plus. NDTV imagine needs to have another route to maintain there growth rate in the present scenario.

The above case is the clear representation of the strategic decision which has taken the organisation from no where to number three position knocking Sony entertainment to fourth level. Now once the brand is established it will be relatively easy for NDTV imagine to promote and position other offerings too.

Thus it can be very well deduce from the situation above that certain key decision or strategic decision which made NDTV acquire the top position are:

  • The time slot which they have chosen, to promote their flagship offering and which in turn has helped them to settle other offerings too. The time slot of 9.30pm where no of the market leader had there best; even if they had that was 9-10 pm slot.
  • The aggressive marketing campaign for the flagship offering.
  • Place in prime band in most of the cities
  • The experience of Sagar Arts in producing the similar offering earlier.
  • The promise to the audience to have minimum advertisement in the commercial break in between the shows. This has benefited the NDTV also, as with minimum advertisement in the breaks the probability of the audience to surf minimizes.

Thus it not only the offering but also the strategic decision also which can lead the organisation towards the growth path.

Bhuwan Shrivastava
Asst. Professor
Shivalik Institute of Management Education and Research

Source: E-mail July 10, 2008


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