Oscars '11: English channels make it a starry affair

With two days to go for the 83rd Academy Awards 2011, English channels are putting up their juiciest Oscar content for the big day. exchange4media takes a peek at what lies in store…

e4m by Fatema Rajkotwala
Updated: Feb 25, 2011 8:33 AM
Oscars '11: English channels make it a starry affair

For any movie lover, the moment of hands-down gratification is when the names of your favourite artistes are read out of the sealed envelope and they walk away with the coveted golden statue. Since 1969, the Oscar show has been broadcast internationally and this year, the 83rd Academy Awards will reach movie fans in over 200 countries.

Year after year, English general entertainment and movie channels participate in the global event and liven up their daily shows by making ‘The Academy Awards’ or Oscars, as they are fondly referred to, as the central theme. Throughout the month, content is festively spruced up to include the past or current year nominated movies, segments on ‘who’s who of Hollywood’, their wardrobe picks for the red carpet, gossip, controversies, interviews, pre- and post-event snapshots and off course, live telecast of the awards presentation.

Star power
Star Movies has been the official broadcaster of the Academy Awards in India since 1999, and this year has branded itself as ‘The Home of the Oscars’. The investment demanded by the property is geared towards building the brand, while ratings are not the core purpose for the channel’s association and initiatives driven in this area.

With all channels devising content around the Oscars, we asked the hosting channel, Star Movies, on its plans to ensure that the tie-up was worth the while. Speaking to exchange4media, Saurabh Yagnik, Senior Vice President, English Channels, Star, said, “With our campaign, we spell our strong association with the event by saying that Star Movies is home of the Oscars. The proposition of the event this year is to go larger than the event. We have dedicated the complete month to the property. We began our festive celebrations with differentiated content with the nomination special show with Rajeev Masand, who is covering the event from the venue in Las Angeles with post award analysis with leading Hollywood critics, directors, etc. Through the month, we are gunning the Oscar festival with movie titles playing at 11 pm on weekdays. We have also taken the event on-ground and leveraged our social media with a quiz, which has seen an enthusiastic response. The winner will be sent to watch the event live next year.”

As is known, the event is scheduled for February 27, 2011 in LA, which translates into the live telecast in India on Star Movies to be slotted at 6 am the following day. It may be argued that the timing of the telecast each year is not congenial to the Indian market – only real fans will tune in, rest will resort to other ways of finding out about the winners or probably catch a repeat telecast later. Does the telecast of the Oscar really help the channel then or is it the value added shine that it grants the brand? Yagnik argued that the event did much more than brand building for the channel. “We have an original and repeat telecast. A light viewer of English movies may not tune in early in the morning. We are offering fans who are heavily interested in Hollywood to watch the event as it happens. As a property, it helps build perception, and with the 360 degree activity around the event, we are in a position to connect with potential new audiences and broaden the base.”

The ratings scorecard is zigzagged between Star Movies and new entrant from the Times stable, Movies Now, in the last seven weeks, with both channels battling it out for the No. 1 position. Yagnik commented, “Oscars is something we do each year; we have our channel plans in place and are focussing on growing our share.”

English GECs not far behind…
Meanwhile, Big CBS Prime, the English GEC from Reliance launched in November 2010, has also joined the Oscar frenzy. The channel will be showcasing a series of shows around the Oscars through the day on February 28. Regular shows such as ‘Insider’ and ‘Entertainment Tonight or ET’ will feature special snapshots and exclusive footage from the 50s to the 90s, some of the worst fashion disasters at the Oscars, backstage stories and rumours – the channel will take audiences through a journey of the revered Hollywood event. The channel will also include Oscar trivia and shows post the day of the ceremony.

Speaking to exchange4media on the content for the event, Aparnaa Pande, General Manager, BIG CBS, said, “Daily and segment shows will give viewers a lead up to the ceremony with highlights such as who has been nominated, what they chose to wear, controversies, a background on the event, a daily countdown and footage. We show the latest content with no time lag and have found the correct content mix. Oscars is the biggest event in Hollywood and adds sheen to an English channel.”

English general entertainment channels have not yet allowed English movie channels to lay back and relax. Commenting on the competition faced from English GECs, Yagnik said, “Movies in this country have a wider appeal than GECs and even though the viewer may be similar in some aspects, I am not seeing a complete overlap yet.”

Star’s Special Focus
This year, apart from broadcasting the event live, Star Movies will provide an in-depth experts’ view on nominations and winners through a special episode on the channel. To create awareness and buzz, Star Movies has been offering Oscar Trivia and contests on-air and online. A four-city Oscar Quiz, ‘Predict & Win Contest’, is being conducted on-air and on-ground for consumers to participate and interact with the brand. The channel has been showcasing Oscar winning titles through a tie-up with PVR theatres in main cities across India as part of a week-long festival, from February 18 to 24 to celebrate cinematic excellence by giving a chance to cine lovers to experience the films in cinemas as a part of the Oscar Festival. Oscar statues dot various PVR cinemas with take-away postcards carrying information on this year’s nominations. Outdoor Advertising is being initiated in Mumbai and Delhi with partnership with Pioneer Advertising.

As part of the print campaign, advertorials have been placed in leading publications in metros such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore, coupled with an advertorial with ‘GQ’ magazine.

The channel has undertaken digital promotion by engaging fans with trivia and a quiz that grants the winner a chance to witness the ceremony live next year. On the mobile platform, users can register for Oscar Updates or sign up for daily updates on Twitter to generate awareness and create buzz.

Oscar Movie Menu
Through its exclusive deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), Multi Screen Media’s movie channel, PIX, has begun airing titles from the studio since January 1, 2011. Films that will be aired on PIX in 2011 as part of this arrangement include Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominated film ‘The Social Network’, among others.

At present, PIX comes in third position in the movie genre, with Movies Now and Star Movies battling it out for the number one spot. In the light of added advantage with the tie-up with SPE, PIX began the year with its first 10-day outdoor campaign in three cities to promote seven Hollywood movies at one go, with its campaign titled, ‘Hollywood is Here’. For the Oscars, the channel has lined up a list of Oscar winning films such as ‘The Hurt Locker’, ‘The Aviator’, ‘Erin Brockovich’, ‘A Single Man’, and ‘Crash’, among others, starting February 21 to 28, along with the promise of live footage from the Red Carpet event at 4.30 am on February 28. This will be a two-hour long show with repeat telecasts at 7 am and 7 pm.

Commenting on the season’s big event, Himmat Butalia, Marketing Head of Sony PIX, said, “The Oscars recognise and felicitate exceptional and outstanding talent in different fields of movie making. In the spirit of the awards, we are proud to present a special line-up of Oscar winning films and a special two-hour programme on The Red Carpet.”

Zee Studio will be featuring its property ‘Academy Spotlights’ through the month of February on weekdays after the 9 pm movie, featuring Oscar winning or nominated movies. On February 12, 2011, the channel had telecast the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards ceremony at 9 pm. The SAG Awards are closely watched by the industry and viewers as a precursor to possible Oscar and Emmy recognition.

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