Zee TV toppling Star Plus from the No. 1 position in Week 43 on the back of the television premiere of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘Chennai Express’ once again shows the power that Bollywood wields over mainline GECs.
This is corroborated by TAM subscriber data – Zee TV garnered a whopping 19541 TVTs for ‘Chennai Express’, which premiered on the channel on October 20, 2013, taking the channel ahead of Star Plus. The TVT of the movie was almost double that of the top show on TV that week. A week before that Star Plus had premiered ‘Bhaag Milka Bhaag’, which garnered 4072 TVTs.
Big ticket movie premieres are no strangers on mainline GECs, which have been banking on their pull for over a decade. Not only have they helped bring in the revenues for the channels, but also extended the channels’ reach beyond the regular audiences.
Recent times have seen the television premieres of hit movies such as ‘Singham’, ‘Bodyguard’, ‘3 Idiots’, ‘Dabang 1 & 2’, ‘Ashiqui 2’, and more. Colors had acquired nine films from Eros Productions in the year 2012. Kalanithi Maran-owned Sun TV, too, had made significant investments, reportedly to the tune of Rs 400 crore in 2012, to acquire big ticket movies in Tamil to maintain its strength in the Southern market.
The platform of TV premieres has also attracted various alternate revenue models apart from regular ones. Early this year, Kamal Hassan had also proposed the premiere of his film ‘Vishvaroopam’ on major DTH platforms, which invited the ire of theatre associations in Tamil Nadu.
PM Balakrishna, COO, Allied Media remarked, “Theatrical audiences are at times very different from the home ones. At times, theatrical releases do not garner as good results as from home premieres. Channels use this as a very sharp strategy to gain traction from the non-regular audiences. That is the reason why they advertise the movie premieres heavily. Advertisers pay for the big flicks, which have a huge star cast, like in the case of ‘Chennai Express’.”
Is it bang for the buck?
It goes without saying that movie acquisition has become a huge business for the channels. Reportedly, ‘Chennai Express’ was bought for Rs 50 crore by ZEE Network. Ashish Sehgal, Chief Revenue Officer, ZEEL shared, “The movie has been the highest revenue grosser among the channels today. We have earned close to Rs 16 crore from the first premiere of the film. That is equivalent to a high profile cricket match earnings. But having said that, I would also like to add that the acquisition costs today are very high and, therefore, channels usually struggle to keep the bottom line ticking in these cases. Over a period of time, recovering a full breakeven from movie premieres would be extremely difficult for a channel.”
According to industry experts, there is also a competition factor that works amongst the star cast of a movie. The producer/ actor wants to sell his movie at a higher cost when he learns that his rival producer/ actor has sold it at a certain price. This involves huge bidding and customised deals with the producer of the film.
Shimit Nagar, a senior media analyst with Templeton Equities pointed out, “In most of the cases today, the acquisition cost of the movie outweighs the earnings cost, but channels usually see more profits than earning money. Reach, traction and more sampling by the audiences are also the prime objectives of a broadcaster when he premiers a big ticket movie. This helps in the long run.”
Mostly, movie premieres help the channel in short term traction and revenue, but advertisers usually lock in inventories for the first premiere. As per sources, if the ratings of the first premiere are good, the inventories of the second or third premieres are then bought. But usually broadcasters pitch the advertisers for the long term, betting on the star cast and the performance of the movie at the Box Office.