The Hindi movie genre is witnessing a lot of action from the players, especially in the latter half of 2005. Between Zee Cinema, MAX and STAR Gold, many new initiatives have been borne to attract audience attention to the fullest. The result has been growth in viewership coupled with fragmentation and a tough chase for titles. Media experts believe that the time ahead is set to see more of this with the launch of Hindi movie channel ‘Filmy’.
Filmy is the Hindi movie channel from the Sahara Group. The channel does have some benefits that come with the access to the movies from Sahara Motion Pictures, but beyond that, Filmy has to establish its own course in the closely contested genre. The media fraternity believes that even as movies will see growth, Filmy, like any other newcomer, would be a threat to the present players.
Data from TAM Media Research establishes that Zee Cinema is the clear number one in the genre. However, initiatives by STAR Gold’s Super Six, New Year movies or the ‘theatrical’ and ‘festival’ experiences that MAX promises have given these channels a boost, too, in ratings and on occasions, this has meant a dip in the leader’s ratings. Will Filmy eat into the present channels to get its ratings or will it be able to create its own audience?
Media experts shy away from giving a direct reply to that, but they do state that there is no reason why the genre won’t see growth. “The Hindi movie genre has per se seen growth,” said Pradeep Iyengar, VP, Carat Media (West), “There are dormant players in the genre, but there are three very active players that are already doing much to guard their turf. The coming of a new channel can add to the pie, but we mustn’t forget that at end of the day, the fight is over titles.”
A point that Divya Radhakrishnan, VP, The Media Edge, agrees with. “For movie channels, new and big is important – that is new titles that have been big with the audience. There are examples when even the ‘not big’ titles have brought in numbers, but largely it is about getting the movie that the audience is looking forward to. This fight promises to be more cutthroat in days to come.”
A factor she believes works in the favour of Filmy is Sahara Motion Picture. “They have a significant number of titles on the floor and some good ones to their credit already. I think the channel has quite a bit working for it,” she pointed out.
The feel from the present players is on the same lines of seeing growth in the genre. Deepak Segal, EVP, Content and Communication, STAR India, said, “The entry of any new entrant has an impact and Filmy will have its own impact too. But the movie genre, corresponding to the growth that television is seeing, will grow too. The chase for titles will still be there and will become fiercer now, but as they say, competition is good for everything.”
Zee Cineema’s Bharat Ranga opined on similar lines, “The Indian audience has shown an appetite for Hindi movies, which is why the genre has seen as much as a 15-20 per cent growth year-on-year in the last two years. If this continues, I don’t see how a channel would eat into any other channel – the newcomer can well bring in its own loyal audience.”
Industry word is that like MAX and the other players, Filmy, too, would concentrate on the presentation and packaging of the movies shown on the channel. According to Ranga, packaging did play an important role in getting the viewer attention for some time, but Iyengar was of the opinion that these were small time gain, “The viewer might prefer it but it doesn’t matter who is anchoring what. If the viewer doesn’t want to watch the movie, he won’t. But yes, this can help the channel to hold on to the view in the non-movie time as well.”
Sahara’s preparation around Filmy is high and the organisation is not revealing more details about it at present. However, more will be known on the channel later this week, when Filmy would have geared up to lure the Indian audience.