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What drives English movie channels?

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What drives English movie channels?

It has always been a point to ponder: why some channels fare better than others in the same domain. It is very simple. The more commercial you are, the more popularity you get, irrespective of the quality and content. And if you club playing big-title movies with good rates of advertising – you have made it to the top.

However, this might not be true in all cases. According to TAM data, HBO and Star Movies, in the domain of English movie channels in India, are leaders in terms of reach, time spend and weekend channel share during prime time, compared to Zee Movie Zone (ZMZ) and Hallmark. But what actually determines the success of a channel? The content, the quality, or is it the marketing strategy?

On speaking to Shams Kabir, Regional Head, Media, RK Swamy/BBDO, it was clear that media buying houses consider quality of packaging as important as the big titles played. “Content plays a significant role in retaining viewership. There is a very marginal audience for movies. They are more led by the title being shown. Also, the overall quality of experience plays an important role,” said Kabir.

“Distribution, packaging and perception of a channel are what matter the most. While ZMZ plays more classics and regulars, it plays very few big titles thus giving an edge to players like HBO and Star Movies,” said Kajal Thakur, Regional Director, OMS. Explaining how a channel is chosen for clients, she said, “We see the tentative line-up of movies for a month and pick the one that look more promising. Ideally, we look for a combination on two main channels.”

On being asked about the reason for success of the channel, Shruti Bajpai, Country Manager (India), HBO South Asia, said, “With four of the best movie studios (Warner, Paramount, Universal and Sony) as our partners, we have a robust inventory of blockbuster movies.” In addition, we have HBO originals, a proprietary franchise exclusively made by HBO for HBO. It has shows like Band of Brothers, Sex and the City and movies like Live from Baghdad and Hysterical Blindness, which attract audiences.”

Looking at ZMZ, the channel share has gone up by seven per cent since its re-launch on October 1. Ajay Trigunayat, Business Head, ZMZ, said, “As facts say it, titles get more viewers. After the re-launch, we brought in more titles and the channel share went up from 14 to 21 per cent in just a month’s time. Perception takes time to change. We are customising the content to the Indian market. We are doing festivals. For instance, we recently concluded the Bond festival where we played five Bond movies. Similarly, we have an Indiana Jones festival coming up and have acquired rights for first telecast for movies like Duplex, Butterfly Effect, Kill Bill 1 and 2 and so on. In a few months’ time, the channel will come out with a new look – new graphics, voice over, montage. But the logo will remain the same.”

While titles seem to be the favourites amongst media planners, packaging, distribution and quality play an equally important role in the success of a channel. ,


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