The mainline Hindi movie channels have had an interesting run in 2008. Even as the Indian Premier League redefined cricket and delivered unexpected numbers for Max, most Hindi movie channels played the old titles game. Many industry observers are looking at newcomer UTV Movies closely. The channel may just turn out to be a game-changer going forward, if its strategy of premiering new movies pays off.
The ratings story for the Hindi movie channels is not much different from last year. Zee Cinema and Max battled it out for the top slot every week. Even the advent of IPL did not change Max’s fate for it to continue at a steady numero uno position after the series was over. Star Gold, which has stayed with a programming mix where at least the smaller or niche titles have premiered on the channel, is on the No. 3 position in the genre.
Filmy and UTV Movies, which move between the fourth and fifth positions, lock horns more fiercely towards the end of the year. UTV Movies brings differentiation to the genre to some extent at present, as its strategy has been to premier big titles like ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ on the channel. Despite this, at least so far, the channel has still not broken into the top three in the genre.
As is known, there are 12 Hindi movie channels on television at present, but channels like Zee Premier, Zee Classic, Zee Action, Jhankarr Movies, B4U Movies, CVO, and Bindass Movies still have no numbers to show.
Interestingly, some of the most viewed movies on the top two leading channels include the likes of ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ (2003), ‘Vivaah’ (2006), and South flicks such as ‘Chandramukhi’ (2005) and ‘Don No. 1’, amongst others.
CPRP on the genre debated
Media planners are of the opinion that Hindi movie channels are very important in their media plans, as they play an important role in building the reach. Harish Shriyan, Managing Partner, OMD India, explained, “Most advertisers like those in the FMCG sector are very active on Hindi movie channels.”
Nikhil Rangnekar, Executive Director, India - West, Starcom Worldwide, seconded this, and said, “Hindi movie channels reach the same audience as GECs in some markets. More often than not, you would find that any brand that advertises on GECs would also be on Hindi movie channels. The reason is primarily to be able to drive frequency. If you look channel shares, Max and Zee Cinema would have a share similar to Sony or any of the number four or five positioned Hindi GEC. But Sony would come at much higher CPRP because their rates, unlike a movie channel’s, would be higher.”
Presenting another view on this, Sudha Natrajan, Chief Operating Officer & Joint President, Lintas Media Group, said, “This genre used to be very efficient till about two years back, because their cost per rating point (CPRP) was fairly low. Their entry cost barriers were low because their rates were lower and they had decent deliveries. Post TAM panel expansion and proliferation of channels in the genre, the CPRP has gone up, in certain cases even higher than some GEC channels, and they have become inefficient. Hindi movie channels at present are not an extremely attractive proposition, but they are still doing well, and do add unduplicated reach in certain markets.”
The media heads also state that rating, and hence the No. 1 player, is not very important for this genre, as the difference in numbers is not significant. While Shriyan said that the No. 1 keeps fluctuating, Natrajan points out that there is clutter in the genre at present, and that the quality of the channel matters while making media plans.