On Indian television, one genre that sees stiff competition is Hindi movies. In the current state, it is difficult to place any of the main players as the clear leader. An interesting aspect of the genre is that channels are quick to adopt any technique that seems to be paying off for the rival channel. MAX might have taken STAR Gold’s idea to cash in on the dubbed Hollywood titles but now it is STAR Gold’s turn and in course, it has introduced the single ad-break movie concept, beginning August 2, 2004.
MAX began this concept earlier in the year for its Sunday 1 pm movie slot, called as the ‘Mera Movie’. The explanation to choose this slot, as per channel officials, was that the slot played a movie by viewer’s choice here. Soon to follow in March was Zee’s initiative of ‘Rok Sako Toh Rok Lo’. For Zee of course, this is a fortnight event, where the movie is aired on alternate Sundays from March 14 – but in the 9 pm prime time slot. Again, here the officials explained that the slot drew more eyeballs than other slots.
Now, six months down the line, the concept would be used by STAR Gold in the form of ‘Ek Baje Ek Break’. While like MAX, it too has planned it in the 1 pm slot, unlike MAX, this initiative for STAR Gold would come on the weekdays. Sharing more on this, Deepak Segal, Sr VP, Content and Communication, STAR India expresses, “Our 1 pm slot garners substantial ratings but audience has the tendency to drift. So it makes sense to introduce this initiative in this slot.” Ratings do indicate that while in other dayparts, Gold manages to take the top slot, it rarely does so in the weekday afternoons. This initiative aims to improve its performance in this slot, and hence increase the overall performance of the channel.
In terms of numbers, the strategy has paid off for other channels. Looking at Zee Cinema in the Hindi speaking markets for the target C&S 4+, the Sunday 9 pm movie has given the channel ratings varying largely between 0.26 to 0.8. Only on two occasions the ratings crossed 1. However, with this initiative in place, the channel managed a 2.84 on March 14 itself. Going forward every alternate Sunday has consistently given the channel 1-plus ratings. Even when the timing is brought to 8.30 pm, the strategy is paying off for the channel. To draw a comparison, the same slot on Sundays, which doesn’t have the single ad break in place, still gets ratings below 1. The same holds true for Max. The slot has consistently given the channel ratings moving between 1.1 to 2.72.
Obviously Gold has good reasons to try the initiative itself. As was seen in case of the other channels, even for Gold, adequate marketing and promotions will support this programming initiative. Segal explains this is one of the initiatives that Gold has used to lure more viewers and there are more to come, “We have been proactively introducing initiatives that put STAR Gold as an obvious choice for the viewer’s everyday routine. Whether it is by bringing in dubbed Hollywood movies or the latest Gold Premier slot where we showcase an extended footage of the movie, a day before the release. We plan something in every month now.”
Hindi movie channels, is one of the heated genres on Indian television. One aspect that initiatives like these signify is that channels are willing to sacrifice substantial advertising revenues just to ensure that the valuable viewer stays with them. Cutting down on commercials is an internationally followed strategy now, even for other genres like news and mass entertainment. While Hindi movies have already elevated to encompass these strategies, it would be worth seeing if and when other genres embrace it.