Its been a season of movies and the latest in the queue, the much awaited, much hyped block buster on Sony TV, Lagaan, saw audiences flocking to the channel. The movie, aired on Sunday 27th October saw ratings climbing to 10.55% according to latest figures released by TAM Media Services.
In spite of being on air for about five and a half hours, it managed a TVR of 10.55 % in the C&S 4+ audience, and a better 10.64% in C&S 15+,across 9 Hindi speaking markets.
Said a happy Sunil Lulla, Executive Vice President, Sony Entertainment Television, "We are extremely happy with the ratings that Lagaan has got. I think this is the highest viewership any movie on any channel has achieved in the last fifteen months. The way we promoted the movie and packaged it helped, not to forget that it is a really good film". He adds, "Lagaan was a good business proposition - it delivered for the advertisers as well as the channel."
Would it make blockbusters a more frequent phenomenon on the channel? Sony, according to Lulla, has been showing hit Bollywood movies on a regular basis even in the past, and it is not a new happening, "Sony has always had a strong catalogue of films. We have made an investment in it as we believe that it is an important stream to provide good reach to the advertisers, as well as give viewers a good viewing experience."
Zee, which launched its own set of blockbusters on Thursdays as a strategy to enhance its viewership. Does Lulla also believe that Bollywood movies work better than any other genre on Indian television? He says, "All movies don't do equally well - as is the case with original programming where not all programmes do well. However, having said that a good title has a lot of audience appeal, and hence helps in meeting the business objectives better. I would repeat, title matters a lot."
Meanwhile the ratings garnered by the latest Thursday movie on Zee, 'Om Jai Jagdish' (4.23 % in C&S 15+ across the nine Hindi speaking markets) do seem to substantiate Lulla's argument that the title matters a lot.
However, media fraternity feels that Lagaan getting TRPs of 10+ is no earth shattering record as "Humraaz did 6.5, and reached 10 in some of the important cities. Considering the fact that Lagaan was the biggest hit of the year and the price the channel must have paid for it - it is not a big achievement."
When asked if the success of the success of Bollywood movies indicated that they were the best medium to garner viewership, Says Suresh Balakrishnan, executive President, Initiative Media, "Sony has shown block-buster movies before as well - for example Border. And these movies must have made good business sense for the channel."
However, he adds, "Movies have been used as tactical tools for quite some time to get good business. But Zee, for the first time, is using them as a strategy to drive viewership. Movies like Mujh Se Dosti Karoge must have had full inventory but it used slots to promote its own programmes as well. And we would be seeing it as a growing trend in time to come." He also states, "More brands will look at movies seriously if the deal is for a longer duration rather than a one off blockbuster."