GECs eye blockbuster ratings with latest Bollywood releases

The trend of premiering the latest Bollywood releases on Hindi GECs has been growing in recent times and the gap between the theatre release and television premiere is increasingly narrowing. While the cost of acquiring the telecast rights is huge, has it paid off for the GECs proportionately? Are the channels getting the expected eyeballs?

e4m by Khushboo Tanna
Updated: May 28, 2010 8:42 AM
GECs eye blockbuster ratings with latest Bollywood releases

Missed watching the latest Bollywood blockbuster on the big screen, wait a few weeks and it will be playing at the screen in your living room. The gap between the theatre release and television premiere is increasingly narrowing as Hindi GECs have taken to premiering the latest releases in the weekend slots. New movies are now being premiered on GECs within a span of 4- 6 weeks.

Take the example of ‘Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani’. The movie was released in theatres in November 2009 and premiered on Colors in December 2009. This strategy seems to have worked as the movie secured a rating of 7.45 TVR (C&S 4+, HSM). Similarly, the movie ‘All The Best’ was telecast on Zee TV in January 2010 and managed to get a rating of 4.23 TVR (CS 4+, HSM).

‘De Dana Dhan’, ‘Wanted’, ‘Veer’, ‘Kambakkht Ishq’… the list of such movies is growing.

With movies from big banners involved, channels are shelling out large sums to acquire telecast rights of these movies. Hence, it becomes imperative to choose the movies with care. What factors are taken into consideration while chosing the latest releases for telecast? Akash Chawla, Marketing Head, Zee TV, replied, “Factors such as box office collections, star cast, period of release and whether the film has the potential to grab eye-balls on television are considered while deciding on which film to acquire. A film that fulfills all these criteria is usually looked upon by clients as a good investment.”

On a similar note, Gaurav Gandhi, Chief Commercial Officer & Head - International Business, Viacom18, said, “Movie premieres sponsorships are sold to a client with a multi-week promotion campaign, just like events or other big non- fiction shows. The clients get their sponsor tags across this promotion campaign. Besides these, the ratings for the premier of a blockbuster film could draw in huge number of audiences, and the audiences for such films tend to be more broad-based than typical soap audiences that GECs attract on fiction shows. Thus, all in all for a client these premieres become a great platform for association and advertising.”

Exclusive rights & shared rights

According to industry experts, there are generally two models of movie acquisition: the channel can either get the exclusive telecast rights of the movies or can share the rights with a number of channels. While the duration of the exclusive rights is for a period of five years, it can vary depending on the deal.

Bhavna Jha, General Manager, TME, pointed out that channels could also acquire the exclusive rights for the first premiere and then the rights could be shared by other channels.

Gandhi explained that while most channels generally preferred to acquire exclusive rights, for the last few years movies were being acquired on a non-exclusive basis because the prices expected by the producers/ film studios had increased significantly and the studios wanted to do deals for a limited period/ limited runs. “However, this model is now going back to exclusive rights for a fixed 5/7/11 year period,” he added.

That said, daily soaps still continue to contribute a large percentage of the channels’ ratings. Colors’ Gandhi said, “About 8-10 per cent of our ratings come from movies; this number could go up to 15 per cent when there are big premieres.” On the other hand, Zee’s Chawla said that movies generated less than 10 per cent of the channel’s total viewership.

Similarly, Anupam Vasudev, Executive Vice President – Marketing, STAR India, said that approximately 5-7 per cent of Star Plus’ ratings came from movies.

Commenting on the ratings generated by the daily soaps, R Venkata Subramanian, Vice President, Lintas Media Group, explained, “Daily soaps are shown five times in a week with repeats, while a channel telecasts a movie just once a week. Hence, it is inevitable that the soaps will contribute greater ratings for the channel.”

Chawla claimed that Zee TV was the slot leader in the non-fiction genre on Fridays and Saturdays and hence, they hadn’t bothered to premiere any of their films on a Saturday. “We have always believed in scheduling our movies on Sundays,” added. Gandhi, too, said that for Colors, Sunday primetime (8 pm) was the best slot for premiering movies.

However, Vasudev affirmed, “If the channel has, over a period of time, established a specific slot as a new movie premiere slot, then it is likely that ratings will be higher if the movie is premiered in that slot than anywhere else in the schedule. Apart from that, we have not observed much variation between the primetime slot rating potential for Saturday vis-à-vis Sunday and audience potential is roughly the same.”

Meanwhile, according to LMG’s Subramanian, a movie’s performance would be better on a Sunday, while Jha of TME felt that a movie would do better on a Saturday.

With an increasing number of latest Bollywood releases being premiered on GECs, the rates for ad spot have gone up too, however, according to media planners, this hike has not been too steep.

Sure one can now catch up with the latest movies on TV, but media planners are firm that it would never substitute watching a movie in a theatre, given the entire experience. So, multiplexes needn’t lose their sleep over this… yet.

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