English movie channels have so far seen decent amount of action in terms of experiments with non-movie formats like drama series and events. A substantial amount of these are seen on HBO, but now with STAR Movies introducing Lost in September, English movie channels will see more action on this front.
For HBO, non-movie format have always been a regular feature. There are various HBO originals that have been brought in for the Indian market like Band of Brothers and Sex and the City.
STAR Movies had earlier experimented with drama series when it brought Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi drama Taken on the channel in 2003. Lost is the next big initiative from the channel in this arena.
Throwing more light on the reasons on bringing the show, Ajay Vidyasagar, Senior V-P, Marketing and Communications, STAR India, said, “Lost is, by far, one of the biggest successes of US television in 2004-05. A key reason for its success is its huge scale production values. It was conceived from the start on the scale of a motion picture rather than a TV show. After seeing the excellent reviews the show has received in the States that allude to the movie-like quality of the show, we realised that it would work very well on STAR Movies.”
Media professionals point different reasons on why such formats work for movie channels – a prime one being alternative revenue generation. According to Harish Shriyan, President, MediaCom, “There is a substantial amount of marketing that movie channels do around such properties, and it makes sense for an advertiser to benefit from that.”
Agreeing with him, Gautam Rajagopal, National Buying Head, Optimum Media Solutions, said, “Quite frankly, that is all that it does – additional revenue. There isn’t much that it does in terms of ratings, even for a niche channel. HBO raked in money with Band of Brothers and Sex and the City.”
Adding another point of view here, Manoj Malkani, Group Buying Head, (Broadcast Investments), said, “For some audience, it can lead to appointment viewing as well and help the channel sampling with new eyeballs. More importantly, it brings in some freshness in the content line-up, which is otherwise movies, back-to-back.”
Shriyan, too, pointed out the additional choice that non-movie formats offered to viewers and advertisers. “They also help the channel in creating some more noise. More people discuss a Sex and the City than a Terminator 3! ” he noted.
Reiterating this point, Vidyasagar said that such formats added diversity and currency to the channel offerings, “and help bring in appointment viewing, whereas on most occasions viewing is dictated by the movie airing at that particular point in time. Also, for viewers who like particular genres, say action, creature features, thriller, etc, such formats provide guaranteed quality entertainment.”
English movie channels in India – where the main source of revenue, unlike international markets, continues to be advertising – will see a need to bring in more such formats. With the exception of HBO, not many experiments are otherwise seen on this front in India, and if expert opinions are anything to go by, there is still time to see the market changing to accommodate more such formats.