In Tamil Nadu, heroes live and dance among the lesser mortals during Pongal. The four-day harvest festival holiday is incomplete without blockbuster movies — a rushed visit to the theatre or binge-watching on the television as a family. It’s entertainment, entertainment and more entertainment, and the day closes with a favourite soap on Sun TV. In 2019 as well, the 26-year-old channel did not disappoint. It aired some of the biggest hits that year — from Vijay’s sports action film Bigil to Rajinikanth’s Petta and Ajith’s action drama Viswasam.
For nearly two decades, faithful following and strong political connections have given Sun TV a stronghold over the South. But over the past few years, Star Vijay and Zee Tamil have caught up. After all, Sun TV isn’t the only one with the wherewithal to premiere movie hits. Vijay TV aired Dhanush’s Asuran and Samantha’s Oh Baby, while Zee jammed in a variety of shows, comedy and sports to award shows, and then topped this off with Rajinikanth’s films. With quality programming in abundance, Sun’s market share is in danger.
Back then, advertisers had to concede to Sun’s terms even during a slowdown. Not anymore. “Both viewers and advertisers now have more options to chose from. Earlier advertisers used to check whether there is inventory available on Sun before they could launch a product. That is no longer the case,” says B Shankar, CEO, Fourth Dimension Media, a media outsourcing firm. Cracks in the broadcaster’s performance have also begun to hurt its stock. From a high of Rs.650 in April 2019, the stock declined nearly 50% to Rs.323 during the current market plunge.
While Sun TV enjoyed an unprecedented run as market leader, increasing competition from Zee and Star TV saw the channel lose significant ground over the past couple of years. From a market share of 50.6% in January 2018, it slipped to a low of 39% in February 2019. To regain some of the lost market share, Sun launched new shows such as Roja (April 2018), Nayagi (Feb 2018) and others on its flags