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What would it take to pull English movies genre out of the niche bracket?

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What would it take to pull English movies genre out of the niche bracket?

The English movie space, albeit a small category, is steadily growing. The growth of this genre will be further supplemented by two significant developments that took place in the last two weeks. The first was STAR Network announcing the launch of its second English movie channel after Star Movies titled Star Movies Action. The second highlight was Sony Pix associating with MGM Studios to premiere the studio’s new titles on television.

It can also be recalled that HBO Asia launched two new premium ad free movie channels, HBO Defined and HBO Hits in India in December 2012. 

Though the genre has been observing an upswing, are these enough to take it off the niche category, remains the question.

Viewership vs. advertising revenues
According to a KPMG report, the English movie space made up for just 0.88 per cent of the viewership shares in 2012. But compared to its viewership share being approximately one per cent, English entertainment, including GECs and movies, commands a high advertisement share of around five per cent.

Also, according to experts, the last three years have seen growth of 25 per cent upwards on the revenue front, which is not on the same page with viewership that remains limited to around 80 odd GRPs. So what is limiting the viewership numbers?

Hindrance to viewership growth
Saurabh Yagnik, Business Head, Sony Pix believes that content and differentiation are two significant factors that need to be paid attention to for this category. 

One of the primary factors that has led to limited viewership numbers is that audiences are not spending a lot of time on the channel on a weekly basis, which is a reflection to the fact that appointment viewing is not common for the English movie space.

Elaborating further on the same, Yagnik stated, “We need to encourage appointment with the channel and increase the time spent, which is why content offering, how you engage your viewers and how you create differentiated content becomes more important.”

According to media experts, snacky viewing needs to be done away with in order to increase viewership. Broadcasters also believe that these channels are only relevant to a limited market and hence, though people would be aware of the existing movie channels, the amount of time spent and preference for the content becomes a very significant factor and a strong determinant to the low viewership numbers. “Very few people make appointment and view the channel and hence, to that effect it is niche but not because of anything else,” added Yagnik. 

The second important challenge faced by English movies channels is the fact that they work on a very different space where in content is typically licensed for one year which is then rotated across channels, making it less of a brand association. Hence, ultimately it is the same kind of content which is changing hands from one channel to the other without any differentiation and fighting for a share in that small pie.

Digitisation and high blitz disruptive campaigns
According to experts, the digitised markets such as the metros have observed higher time spent than other markets. There has been an increment in reach as well. Channels have also been launching innovative marketing campaigns on different media platforms as well as digital and social media to create buzz.

Digitisation Phase II would also help deeper penetrate markets, leading to increased sampling and hence, overall growth of this genre.

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