It would be difficult to afford movie acquisitions in the future: Hemal Jhaveri

The EVP and GM, Star Gold and Movies OK, talks about the cost factor that affects movie acquisitions and the efforts behind the success of Star Gold and Movies OK

e4m by Abhinav Trivedi
Published: Mar 27, 2014 7:46 AM  | 4 min read
It would be difficult to afford movie acquisitions in the future: Hemal Jhaveri

In a conversation with exchange4media, HemalJhaveri, EVP and GM,Star Gold and Movies OK,discusses how the Hindi movie genre is shaping up and what it takes to drive the business of movies on TV successfully.

What have been the recent initiatives taken by Movies ok and Star Gold?
We are working towards consolidating whatever we have done so far. Star Gold has evolved as a blockbuster destination from just another movie channel. We have been working very hard to give the viewers what they want, e.g. one minute breaks, etc. We used to hear a lot of consumer complaints, and though we have some amount of constraints in the way we operate, we are trying our best to increase viewer engagement. Both our flagship channels have achieved these parameters. Movies OK has been a great success story, although it is less spoken about.  We have had big premiere engagement.

Your genre is based on appointment viewing. Is the job done after acquisition of rights or do you think customer engagement holds the key now?
It depends on what you want to do. Consumer engagement activities always existed. It matters how you amplify them. We had SabseFavoriteKaun, contests, and T20 where you ask 20 questions. But people come in for the content and not just for the sake of participating in a contest.Therefore, content matters more than anything else. The benchmark of acquisition has to go beyond the commercial aspect of the film. We have movies like Kahanni and BhaagMilkhaBhaag. We engage in a fair amount of social media, OOH, print, press to reach out to our audiences. We do a lot of research and have anadequateunderstanding of what a consumer is looking for.

So is it a balance between critically acclaimed and commercially successful films?
It is a journey. Jai Ho, besides being a Salman Khan movie, has a great story as well. We go through fair amount of discussions before making acquisition. We have been reasonably successful in our efforts so far, and we have missed some as well.

What are the parameters you consider before choosing a movie?
Critical parameters are the story, technical crew (director, etc.), banner and the actor. There are times when we might change priorities like placing the technical crew above the story line.

Where do you see the movie genre going and do you think the costing is right?
A lot of challenges lie ahead. The first one being the cost challenge; the genre is overpriced. For example,  movie ‘A’ wants Rs10 crore. Movie B releases next Fridayand wants Rs12 crore, another movie on next Friday wants Rs15 crore. Then someone suddenly changes the number game and wants Rs 50 crore. I am the buyer of the rights, which comes after theatrical release, piracy, home video, and DTH. When did I become the person who will delist your business?  To a greater extent, we all are party to this madness.  In the movies genre, it is essentially a portfolio. For some movies you will recover the cost in one year, some you will recover in 10 years. The business of pricing will evolve, but what is killing it is the cost. If I will buy a movie at a very high cost, I might not be able to recover the investment for a long time with the ad revenue. Going forward it will become difficult to afford a movie acquisition.

Hindi movie genre is an appointment viewing genre. What is you approach towards advertisers?
At the end of the day,Hindi moviesare the most consistent medium to deliver to and attract male audiences.  Our primeTG will be men. Action, comedy and a well told drama always works. Thrillers and suspense are usually known beforehand, so unless the content is very well executed, it does not garner viewership. Something which people find uncomfortable watching with their family, doesn’t work.

How do you ensure monetisation of the channel as genre is second to GECs on parameters of reach? Sports overtake when there is a hot property like World Cup.
I am not too worried about the position we are in. As far as you are delivering the same amount of audience day in day out, if you manage your cost,and add value to the advertisers, you stay in business. If value proposition declines, that is when there is a problem.

Do you think more fragmentation in the genre mayhappen post digitisation?
Competition is always good, but it’s a tough business to run. When we launched Movies OK, we were competing with Star Gold. But at the same time, it is a difficult genre to enter unless you don't have a bank of movies. It’s not a place where you say acquisition will happen as it goes.

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