MAX has announced an innovation in programming. Beginning next week, the channel will feature movies with only one commercial break in its Mera Movie screenings on Sunday 1 p.m. The idea is not only to give a differentiated viewing experience to viewers but also a different value branding experience to advertisers.
Explaining this strategy, Rajat Jain, Executive Vice President and Business Head, MAX, says, “The single-break movie on MAX will be a milestone in the history of Indian television. It keeps in with our strong belief in innovations to give viewers extra viewing pleasure. I am glad that as a pioneering movies and events channel, MAX will bring its viewers mega entertaining movies with only one commercial break. Since this will be very much like the lone interval we are used to in cinema halls, it should provide our viewers with a cinema-hall-like movie-viewing experience in the comfort of their homes.”
The commercial break is going to be a four minute one. The result hence is that only one or at the most two brands can be accommodated. Rationalising this, Rohit Gupta, Executive Vice President, Sales, SET India says, “Apart from the viewer’s experience, the aim is to give a unique advertising experience as well. So the whole packaging is designed such that we will be enhancing brand value. To begin with, this format itself gives the brand a clutter free environment.”
The channel is still structuring the strategy some more. Gupta says, “We have designed various innovative methods like scrolls and other on screen brand presence that would lead to complete brand integration in the movie itself.”
About why the initiative is planned on the Sunday Mera Movie slot, Gupta explains, “Mera Movie is a well established brand on the channel. We will be riding on this, taking it one level higher. Also, it is necessarily a slot where MAX viewers are watching the movies they have requested for. So it makes sense to screen this movie without interruption.”
Unlike most innovations that are in some way inspired by international ideas, this one seems to be an original, essentially meaning an experiment for the channel. As per Gupta, to try the experiment, the best time band is Sunday afternoon when viewers have nothing else happening. Also it keeps in with the network’s strategy of building around blocks that are already doing well. The 5 and 9 p.m. Sunday slots for MAX generate better figures than most other days. The channel expects this tactic to build the day’s programming better.
Media planners too have a perspective on this strategy. To begin with, MAX is limiting its revenue on the movie. Again, to retain the attention span of the viewer, the title has to be good, which could mean wastage of good property.
Expresses Amol Dighe, “From the viewer point of view, the strategy is perfect. But it beats the purpose of employing a movie channel, which is delivering frequency. However, to get a brand to sponsor the movie or brand the slot, the way channel is claiming makes sense.
“But it is like the double edged sword. This strategy will help it minimise drop in viewership, which is a biggest problem that movies face because of the time duration involved. There wouldn’t be a lot of channel swapping, which would mean reduction in fragmentation as well.”
Dighe states that the strategy to implement it in a single property in the week will not give it huge benefits, but for a beginning, it makes sense for the channel. In all, it is worth watching out for and might just perhaps turn to be a trendsetter for other movie channels.
About what the channel will be charging, Gupta expresses, “This is a first of its kind initiative and there are no benchmarks to make comparisons. There is a premium and as yet brands have accepted this initiative very positively.”