Consider the irony – on weekends movie channels can expect the viewers to sit back at home, enjoy the popcorn and watch movies. However, also on weekends, the multiplexes also attract more audience out to enjoy the complete movie viewing experience.
The challenge for the movie channels, therefore, is how to keep people at home during weekends and make movie watching on the small screen better than at the multiplexes. The answer is innovation.
MAX, for example, has created unique properties like Maha Movie, Movie of the Month, Sunday Houseful, etc. Albert Almeida, Executive VP and Business Head, MAX explained, “In metros, the Sunday outing is more of an evening phenomenon, may be at multiplexes; hence, we cut our Sunday offering accordingly. We have focused on Sunday for some time now and seen results, but we believe there is greater opportunity and we are working towards investing and then cashing in on the same.”
Zee Cinema, too, has managed to hook viewers through its series ‘Shanivaar Ki Raat, Amitabh Ke Saath’. Mohan Gopinath, Programming Head, Zee Cinema, said, “The Shanivaar Ki Raat series was introduced in December 2004. The mass hysteria that Bachchan generates needed to have a showcase on the channel alongwith the movie shown.”
Knowing that viewership patterns vary in metros and non-metros, channels have devised programming strategies accordingly. MAX has an agenda for non-metros. Almeida explainsed, “In prime time (9 pm) as families in metros and mini metros have other entertainment options and usually step out of their homes, our focus shifts to families in smaller towns. Give them something that's entertaining and they will be glued to their sets. We have ‘Hollywood Hungama’, which showcases the best from Hollywood dubbed in Hindi. The action, sci-fi they don’t get to see in Bollywood, coupled with the fact that it is dubbed for them, makes it tick. Movies like Anaconda, Godzilla, Spiderman, etc, have got rated in the region of 4-5 TVRs.”
It is also interesting to note that KBC 2 has been launched this time on weekends, thus causing viewership to fragment further. When asked how the competition from the recently launched KBC 2 was tackled, Gopinath said, “We respect STAR’s programming strategy of slotting KBC 2 against Shanivaar Ki Raat. We believe that Amitabh’s movies will put the viewers into a happy and pleasant dilemma of reel v/s real.”
While it’s true that properties like Maha Movie, Sunday Houseful and Shanivaar Ki Raat are given more importance than any single blockbuster movie, some movies merit and are given more marketing attention.
An example is the movie ‘Dhoom’ aired on MAX on August 27 (Saturday) at 9.00 pm. Explaining the innovative initiatives, Almeida said, “MAX’s marketing approach is to develop time bands via strong brands and not just specific titles. However, the Maha Movie Dhoom aired on Saturday (August 27) at 9.00 pm, was supported by an explosive and innovative marketing campaign. For on-ground promotions, in the parking areas of In-Orbit and Phoenix Mills there were 18 ft of tyre marks leading to men dressed in Dhoom costumes (black jackets, helmets, boots, gloves, etc) distributing movie tickets. This was also taken forward to other high footfall areas like the Fame multiplex and railway stations at Andheri, Dadar and Lower Parel.”
Gopinath also admitted that if certain blockbusters demanded more marketing activities, they were promoted accordingly.
Considering the high stakes involved, it goes without saying that a lot of analysis is done prior to the decision of buying telecast rights for a movie. Expectedly, whether the movie will work on television or not seems to be the single most important criterion, followed by cost concerns and other issues.
According to Gopinath, all such factors like box office performance, cost, etc, are considered for the decision. Interestingly, recently Sahara India Mass Communication Ltd has acquired the worldwide satellite and pay TV broadcast rights of the entire library of producer Boney Kapoor’s films.
For the moment, while multiplexes woo the viewers with plush ambience and attractive offers, movie channels are leaving no stones unturned in their bid to keep viewers at home on weekends, luring them with their innovative programming.