Zee TV bought telecast rights for a number of new movies, Star Gold decided to shed its classic movie image and went contamporary, and now it is the turn of Sony Entertainment Television (SET). It has acquired ten Hindi feature films including Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, for which it is rumoured to have paid to the tune of Rs six crore. Other movies in the kitty include Deewangee, Awara Pagal Deewana, Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam, Na Tum Jano Na Hum, Chor Machaye Shor, Maan and Beta. The channel also plans to buy rights for more movies in future.
SET plans to premiere Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham on New Years eve. However, the channel spokespersons refused to divulge any further details, as the schedule of the movies has not yet been finalised.
Zee, however, seems unfazed by Sony's recent acquisitions. ORG MARG recently conducted a study for the channel and the results, according to the channel, are pretty positive. Says Apoorva Purohit, President ZEE TV, "Movies are working well for us. Recently we had commissioned ORG MARG to conduct a study. The survey was conducted in 1800 households and 40% of them have been watching movies on ZEE, which, I think, is a good number". With Sony all set to show a number of good movies, is ZEE not worried? She says, "We would not lose first mover advantage, and our strategy is not just movies. Our Sunday programming is doing extremely well, GRPS have picked up on Sundays. Viewers are coming to us on Sundays and staying to watch the serials on all three days. And to add to it, we are getting good feedback from our advertisers"
And what does she has to say on very steeply priced movies, do they prove to be good business preposition? Says Purohit, "Certain movies are bound to be out priced - we might not look at such movies. We have decided to provide wholesome entertainment to our viewers, plus good value to advertisers."
Let's move onto media fraternity. What do they think of channels' increasing addiction with Bollywood? Would the movies become the major channel drivers with original programming taking a back seat. "Says Meenakshi Madhwani, CEO and Regional Director - Asia Pacific, Carat, "Movies have always played an important role for all channels. When Star introduced Hindi programming, it used a slew of movies. Movies are an instant fix. However, having said, that movies drive viewership on a channel, they do not build it, hence it is very important to have good programming on the channel."
And according to Niloufer Kapadia, Chair Person, Everest Integrated Communication, "Channels need to come up with strategies to increase viewership. All the channels look stereotyped these days. Zee used movies as a differentiator successfully. Others are jumping on the bandwagon now. The strategy seems to be currently working, but how many good movies can you get - that too with every channel showing an interest? Unlike abroad, in India movies are hardly made specifically for television." She adds, "Movies would boost viewership to an extent, but the viewers have become discerning. Star Plus is doing so well with its powerful content, without too much dependence on Bollywood movies."
Media fraternity agrees that movies can pay off in terms of building viewership if they are used strategically, or else they would just remain 'attractive business prepositions' as a stand alone programme on the channel, without really building the channel viewership. Says Madhwani, "We will have to wait and watch if Sony finds an innovative way to use movies. ZEE did it by bringing them to Thursday - everybody was showing movies on weekends. They have succeeded in increasing viewer share for other programmes as well. They used it strategically and in a very innovative way." "However", says Madhwani, "From an advertiser point of view there would be an equal focus on movies and non-movie programmes. Movies are a long viewing experience and hence your presence has to be much stronger to make it felt. While it is not the case with smaller duration programmes."