Arguably there are 10 Hindi movie channels on television in India at present. The likes of Zee Premier, Zee Action and Zee Classic are not seen in mainline also due to their intention during launch to be on the DTH platforms. Newcomers like Jhankarr Movies still have to get in the game and CVO, too, has as yet not given viewers enough reasons to stay on the channel.
In essence, this really has boiled down the ratings war between four channels only -- Zee Cinema (a traditional leader), MAX (the leader when cricket has delivered), Star Gold (promising No. 2 last year and now only in the No. 3 slot), and Filmy (numbers still to show).
Unlike 2006, when the graphs of these channels cut into each other, indicating furious battles that were driven by titles, the story in 2007 is the same in terms of positions of playing. Cricket has always delivered for MAX and the game allows the channel to be on the top position. The cricket performance story in 2006 and 2007 has not been very different.
TAM Media Research shows that for the C&S 4+ in the Hindi speaking markets in the first two months, Zee Cinema has maintained its leadership position. Come cricket, and that changes. MAX gets the lead by a significant margin and the channel has stayed there since.
Interestingly in the period, where MAX has added more eyeballs, Zee Cinema has not lost any, thus maintaining its shares. The third player in the sector, Star Gold, too has managed to hang on to its numbers. The fourth player by a decent margin -- Filmy -- has not lost too much either.
Changing rules of the game
Media experts are of the opinion that the Hindi movie genre is no longer about titles. “A Hindi movie channel is just a movie channel, and that is it. It is no longer about this particular channel giving me the best movies,” said Divya Radhakrishnan, Senior VP, TME.
Another senior media professional agreed, adding, “There is nothing unique about any channel any more, and the game is shifting to different kind of movies.” Experts pointed examples like dubbed movies continuing to deliver, and channels picking on themes like showing Bhojpuri movies or other such genre that would be of interest to the Hindi market audiences, which would make the difference for the channel at that end of the day.
Radhakrishnan also pointed out the fact that while other channels also show movies, STAR’s attempt to limit movies only to Star Gold backfired enough for the channel to change the strategy, and as a result, movies are no longer just for movie channels. She said, “There are overlapses and we have seen that the deliveries of blockbusters is also going down in the last year.”
Another area that experts feel would make the difference is in the packaging of the channel. The senior media professional said, “There has to be a cleaner environment than what we see today. Also, channels have to cut down on the number of repeats -- where is the channel personality then?”
Radhakrishnan added, “Initiatives like single-ad movies are more welcome and will make a difference for the channel.”
In all, for Hindi movies, the game is moving from titles to packaging now; and of course, cricket pays.