ZIP & ZAP: Channel Switching in Today’s Era

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Variety is the spice of life…I have heard this one a zillion times. Not many years ago there was hardly any variety and viewers had no choice but to watch one channel, which was PTV. There was nothing else to do but to watch the programs on it and then watch the 9 pm khabarnama. And that was entertainment for Pakistanis. No doubt PTV still reaches out to the largest number of viewers because it is a terrestrial channel and thus has the largest base in comparison to the satellite channels.

But as they say sooner or later change does prevail, and so came the era of satellite channels. And the media industry started booming here with so many channels opening up. Different networks launched a variety of channels under their umbrella therefore expanding the strength of their network and catering to all sects of market via the genres they were offering to the audience.

People living in a household can never be alike in an identical way.  Age, occupation, lifestyle, interests, gender social class, geographical location all contribute in forming a person’s media consumption habits. All the people living in the house may not like or dislike the same softwares. Which is why, the idea of coming up with different genres became a neccessary.

Today, we don’t just have PTV but countless options to view. The list is endless with so many entertainment, news, music, regional channels. And then the niche channels – movies, sports, religious, cooking channels, kids, fashion have too made their mark.

Thus, the transition took place and people had multiple options. But too many choices at a time can also make one a bit confused. With innumerable options no one can expect the viewer to view the channel or the program just because a network feels it’s a great production and they have created too much hype about it. The viewers are on their own and they view what they like or find interesting.  With all this happening channel loyalty is only a dream fools can see because zipping and zapping is bound to take place. And with the extremely long mid breaks during the programs one should expect further flipping.

Channel loyalty is limited to certain niche channels like Cartoon Network, HBO, Ten Sports and there might be a few others for different sets of people.  Because clearly Cartoon Network is by far the most popular kids channel here. HBO still is the best movie channel available and well liked by the youth and male audiences. And Ten Sports remains the most popular sports channel.

But program loyalty does exist. If you talk to mothers they will always let you know the best dramas running currently, the men in the family can throw some light on their favorite current affairs show and the teenagers candidly tell which VJ is their favorite and so they can’t miss his/her show.

ankahiHaving said all that, one must not forget that there are still very few programs that are genuinely impactful.  And Ankahi on Samaa TV is one such program that has created its special space amidst all the plethora of media hype. It is said to have a perfect combo with Faisal Qureshi as the dynamic host, Samaa TV known as a reliable and decent news channel and an interactive content of the entire show where Pakistanis express their views about all sorts of issues.

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The highlight is again on the host because he is known for his style and the way he carries the entire show is quite classy and one does feel that the show is not  a waste of time.  It is a knowledge sharing experience and constructive for the growth and development of the human mind – which more and more Pakistanis should seek because amidst most of our faults one that has conquered, is that we are almost perfect and we can teach everything but no one can tell us anything!

So Ankahi has been doing fairly well in maintaining its position as a good software with decent content. And it would be great to have other shows on other channels not on the same lines but with similar impact in their own style. And surely with other hosts because even Faisal Qureshi is best known for Ankahi but his other shows  over the years though remembered because of him basically were not that great either —- Breakfast @ Dawn and Loose Ends on Business Plus were two programs that we did watch but they lost their impact in a short span of time only.

Thus the challenge of making your mark within the on going zipping and zapping culture still prevails…

Writer, Blogger, Copywriter & Animal Rights Activist. MBA in Marketing Author of "Pakistani Media: The Way Things Are" and Co-author of "If Mortals Had Been Immortals and Other Short Stories"

  • Tyrone Tellis


    I agree that I like Ankahi but how can you or I say that Ankahi is impactful? Is it getting a lot of press? Are people of all groups talking about it? Is it a program that people are recommending?

    You and I as marketers/media people need to guard aganist bias and self reference. Heh its a great program but is it getting ratings? WOM?


  • Zaira Rahman

    Hi Tyrone

    Thanks a lot for your comment. Really appreciate interactive feedback. Well, the reason I wrote about Ankahi was not because I like the program but because of the fact that it had pretty decent ratings on various target audiences. And the program stood out at least when it came to ratings which was quite a big thing when we know there are channels like Geo News and Express News in comparison that have very high viewership.

    Other than that, we have had innumerable group discussion within media (planners and channels) and with brand teams also casually and during such discussions Ankahi always had a high recall level and people loved its content and format. So, yes at least clients and media people themselves hold a good opinion of the show as a whole.

    But of course, indvidual opinions may and can always differ.