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H1: Blockbusters, Movies OK prop up genre


5 Jul 2012
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A spree of movie acquisitions, big-ticket premieres, a tough fight at the top and two channel launches marked the first half of 2012 in the Hindi movie channel space.

The tussle was for snatching market share and, unfortunately these efforts failed to expand the overall viewership of the Hindi movie channel genre.

Star TV took the fight to the other networks with the launch of a second Hindi movie channel under its OK brand. Armed with a vast movie library, Movies OK has had a strong start, becoming the fourth player in the space with over 60 GRPs. The leader channel, whether it is Star Gold or Zee Cinema or Max, enjoys around 120 GRPs.

Star has also been aggressive on the acquisition front, taking the whole library of 500 films from Colors whose own movie channel launch has been put on hold. This allows Star to play its content around its two channels.

The first half also saw the unceremonious launch of another movie channel. Cinema TV, promoted by Mumbai-based Softline Creations, has failed to make any impact. The company claims it has an 800-movie library comprising mainly of retros and is aiming to create a space for itself in the genre dominated by Star Gold, Zee Cinema and Max.

“There were a whole lot of premieres; IPL has further intensified the entire thing (competition), so there is a lot of emphasis on promotional packages. There has been a resurgence in the movie space as a whole,” says Zee Cinema business head Mohan Gopinath.

The genre, however, has stagnated in terms of viewership. “The size of the Hindi movie channel genre hasn’t grown. It remains the same 500-odd GRPs. There is a lot of movie consumption that happens outside the Hindi movie channel genre like on the GECs. The regional channels also show movies and then there are cable guys. So there is enough movie offering,” avers Disney UTV executive director movie channels and channel distribution Sameer Ganapathy.

Ganpathy, however, believes that digitisation will throw open a plethora of opportunities for movie channels as it will allow them to use content in a different manner. It will also throwg open new revenue streams in addition to the linear business.

Even as new channels launched, the top three players battled it out to acquire the best of content. Multi Screen Media, Max’s parent company, made the first move by acquiring the rights of blockbuster Vidya Balan-starrer The Dirty Picture, and yet-to-be-released Aamir Khan-starrer Talaash and Salman Khan-starrer Ek Tha Tiger. It also acquired the rights for Yash Raj Films’ Ladies v/s Ricky Bahl.

Star acquired rights for Dabangg 2, Housefull 2, Ghayal 2 and Kaal Returns, adding to its extensive library of 1300 movies.

Zee, which was lagging behind in the acquisition game, made an aggressive pitch and acquired rights of movies like Don 2, Agneepath, Agent Vinod, Barfee, Heroine, Desi Boyz, Players, Joker, Michael and My Friend Pinto.

Star Gold and Movies OK General Manager Hemal Jhaveri believes that the key to acquiring new titles is to make the content resonate with the target group. “When we acquire movies, they have to fit with the brand ethos of the channel and resonate with the viewers. At the end of the day, running a Hindi movie channel is a difficult business because the costs involved are huge,” avers Jhaveri.

However, much to Max’s disappointment, the premiere of The Dirty Picture was blocked by the Censor Board at the last minute as it objected to certain scenes in the film, which it deemed unfit for general viewing.

Another key trend that started in 2011 and continued this year was the fact that major networks like Star, Zee and MSM started premiering movies on their movie channels as opposed to general entertainment channels.

“There has been movement from GECs to movie channels in terms of movie premieres. Mainstream movie channels have reduced their focus on Hollywood-dubbed content. Earlier there were lots of slots dedicated to Hollywood but now they have moved to South Indian dubbed movies,” says UTV channels marketing head Kunal Mukherjee.

Star premiered movies like Ra One and Housefull 2 while Zee Cinema aired Agneepath and Don 2. These television premieres helped the channels gain viewership ratings.

Movies OK launched a programming block to premiere seven movies on seven consecutive days in May. The channel premiered movies like Kahaani, Jodi Breakers, London Paris New York, Bumboo, Gali Gali Chor Hain, Saat Khoon Maaf and Ekk Dewaana Tha, right after the IPL ended.

UTV Movies, the Bollywood movie channel from the Disney UTV Network, unveiled its new logo, portraying the premium positioning of the Hindi movie channel. The new logo takes forward its 'Jeeyo Bollywood' positioning.

All in all, an eventful first half for movie channels. And the fight can only get tougher in the second half of the year.
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