Dec 18, 2008

Entertainment - The Hindi movie channels dilemma - rate on repeats

Hindi movie channels in India, largely, cope with the format of airing repeat titles. The premier of the big titles especially is done on the general entertainment channels. The year 2008 has also seen the launch of channels like UTV Movies that operate on a model, where big titles are premiered on the Hindi movie channel itself.

A closer look at the Hindi movie channels’ ratings in 2008 shows that some of the most viewed movies in the year, on the leading movie channels, were as old as Koi Mil Gaya (2003), Vivah (2006), Chandramukhi, Rajnikant (2005) and so on. UTV Movies on the other hand premiered movies like ‘Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal’, ‘Aamir’, ‘Halla Bol’ and ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ – the strategy had allowed the channel to show good numbers but not good enough to get it in the top three channels.

In a conversation with exchange4media, Hindi movie channels’ heads state that the ‘repeat model’ works, and from a network point of view, makes sense.

Mohan Gopinath, Business Head, Zee Cinema admitted that premiering a movie on a general entertainment channel would always be more revenue generating than premiering it on a movie channel. At the same time though, the movie channel attracts a different audience. He said, “We draw a particular kind of audience that is built over a period of time on the basis of our library. We have undertaken initiatives like two-minute promos or two-minute brand films along with special offerings of movies to delight and hence develop our viewers and viewership.”

Sneha Rajani, Business Head and EVP, Max explained that across the world, revenue generation of premiere blockbusters on a general entertainment is higher as compared to a movie channel, and that this is a reason why big titles that are more expensive to acquire, are aired on Hindi GECs. She said, “We follow the same strategy as part of our organisational strategy. The nature of these movies is so compelling that even a repeat telecast pulls more audience than a repeat soap.”

STAR India was perhaps one of the first networks that experimented with airing big titles on the movie channel instead of the general entertainment channel three years back with titles like ‘Swades’. The strategy was immediately changed to a triple premier move, where the title was shown on Star Plus, Star Gold and Star One at the same time. As it stands now, the network takes a call on whether a movie would premier on Star Plus or Star Gold depending on the acquisition rate of the movie, and how big the title is and its rating potential. Sameer Rao, General Manager Star group explained, “Blockbuster titles would air first on Star Plus, whereas mid-tier and smaller titles would air first on Star Gold.”

Rao elaborated further on the factors that the channel counts on in absence of showing new titles to keep the viewership of the channel going. He said, “Concepts like movie festivals such as the recent ‘Tata Indicom Chandni Chowk to Bollywood’ and tent-pole events like ‘Comedy Honors’ and ‘Lux Sabsey Favourite Kaun 2009’, which are long term Star Gold franchise properties are the aspects we bank on when we cannot show new movies.”

(Inputs from Geetanjali Minhas)

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