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Hindi movie channels see healthy double-digit ad revenue growth in 2015
MUMBAI: The Hindi movie genre witnessed a healthy double-digit ad revenue growth in 2015, helped by the rollout of data by the Broadcasters Audience Research Council (BARC) and the growth of second channels of the big broadcast networks like Movies OK, &Pictures and Sony Max2. There were also channel launches targeted towards the LC1 towns.
ZEEL chief sales officer Ashish Sehgal believes that not only the genre saw growth in ad revenue but also in overall viewership. The latter, he believes, was due to the correction that happened as a result of BARC rollout.
“The overall viewership of Hindi movie genre has gone up after the BARC rollout, because of which there was revenue growth as well. There has been a revenue growth of around 20 per cent,” Sehgal noted.
But isn’t the industry yet to begin trading on BARC data? While acknowledging that trading on BARC data has not yet started, Sehgal said that the Hindi movie genre saw a rate hike based on the growth trend.
“The Hindi movie genre was selling on pricing in the last few years so the rates have increased based on the trends. The demand for Hindi movie genre has also increased,” he added.
Sehgal mentioned that the second-rung channels have grown faster than the main channels, which also contributed to the growth. “The smaller channels of the big networks have shown higher growth, but this is not to say that the mainline channels have not grown,” he stated.
The entry-level rates for the Hindi movie genre is still economical compared to Hindi GECs considering that both provide similar reach, Sehgal said.
Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) SVP and business head of MAX, MIX and MAX 2 Neeraj Vyas asserted that the Hindi movie cluster saw a 15 per cent growth. “Across both our channels we will see 15 per cent growth,” he stated.
Vyas said that the Hindi movie genre unlike other genres has remained stable despite the changes in viewership measurement. “2015 saw too many upheavals as far as data is concerned. It has been a year of learning for broadcasters,” he said.
He also said that the Hindi movie channels have a slight edge over Hindi GECs when it comes to reach.
“If you look at BARC, the reach of Hindi movie channels is more than GECs, albeit marginally. All three Hindi movie channels have a reach that is marginally better than the top 3–4 GECs. Where we possibly lose out is time spent because GECs have original content,” he averred.
For Vyas, the most heartening fact has been the growth of Max2. “Max has been ruling the charts. All our premieres have rated well. Max2 continues to be a resounding success. Luckily for us, a lot of women also watch Max2. No other movie channel can claim that. We have positioned the channel accordingly and managed to get the results,” he claimed.
According to Vyas, Max2 has the potential of touching 50 GRPs in BARC’s Urban + Rural data.
“The onus lies on us that we invest more in Max2. Clearly, we intend to take Max2 distribution deeper,” he asserted.
The year gone by had also witnessed a lot of action. SPN launched the high-definition (HD) version of its flagship Hindi movie channel Sony Max towards the end of the year. Star did the first-ever 4K premiere of ‘Bajrangi Bhaijan’ on three direct-to-home (DTH) platforms. ZEEL shut down its Hindi movie channel Zee Premiere while giving a makeover to Zee Cinema.
Launch of Sony Max HD
The HD version of Sony Max, which launched on 25 December, has been positioned as a different channel from its standard definition (SD) sibling. Sony Max HD’s tagline is ‘Jee Ke Dekho’. The channel airs a mixture of critically acclaimed and all-time classics. It has a dedicated library of 300–325 films.
“We see this as an opportunity to set up a brand that stands for something different. We were very clear that we wanted to do something that others were not doing. We were also waiting for the right kind of content to come along. We wanted to increase the content spread so that it becomes more holistic,” Vyas had said about Sony Max HD earlier.
LC1 market heats up
Outside the big networks, there were a slew of channel launches targeted towards the LC1 towns. Thus, the year saw the launch of Wow Cinema, RT Movies, and Housefull Movies. Sri Adhikari Brothers launched a GEC named Dillagi for LC1 markets. However, the channel was later converted into a movie channel due to challenges for the business model.
The ongoing digitisation efforts of the government and growth of Doordarshan’s free DTH platform Freedish as a key platform for semi-urban and rural markets have accentuated the launch of long tail channels, which run on syndicated library.
Sony’s Vyas said that these smaller channels pose no threat to the established brands. “They don’t eat into our share,” he asserted. He also said that Sony is not going to syndicate its movies to other channels except certain cable rights.
Zee Premiere shuts
ZEEL shut down Zee Premiere to concentrate on other promising channels like Zee Action and Classic. The broadcaster has six channels in the Hindi movie cluster, namely Zee Cinema, Zee Action, Zee Classic, &pictures, Zee Cinema HD and &Pictures HD.
First-ever 4K movie premiere
After airing seven matches of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in 4K or Ultra HD, Star India tapped into India’s other passion, cinema, by premiering Salman Khan-starrer blockbuster ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ in 4K on three DTH platforms (Tata Sky, Videocon d2h and Airtel Digital TV). This was the first-ever movie premiere in 4K by any Indian broadcaster.
Star India EVP and GM Hindi movie business Hemal Jhaveri had then told TelevisionPost.com that the broadcaster would attempt to do every movie premiere in 4K. “Going forward, we will attempt to do every movie premiere in 4K. Our attempt is to push technology boundary as much as possible. However, we are still evaluating this,” he had said.
Hindi movie channels get sporty
The trend towards airing sports properties on Hindi movie channels gained credence during the year. Zee Cinema joined Sony Max and Star Gold to air sports. The channel aired WWE shows like ‘Raw Dhamaal’ and ‘Smack Down’ in Hindi.
Sony Max is the pioneer in airing live sports events. The Indian Premier League (IPL) broadcaster added another sports property to its offering in the form of Pro Wrestling League.
After tasting success in the inaugural season, Star India continued to air Pro Kabaddi League on its Hindi movie channel Star Gold.
Another trend that seems to be gaining ground is premiering movies on HD channels first. However, broadcasters are premiering only those movies on HD channels that resonate with the HD subscribers, who are much more evolved than the viewers of SD channels in terms of preferences.
The movie channels also premiered a lot of films during the year to keep the viewers engaged throughout the year.
Sony Max premiered ‘ABCD2’, ‘Bahubali’, ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’, ‘Darr @ The Mall’, ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’, ‘Humari Adhuri Kahani’, ‘Katti Batti’, ‘Khamoshiyan’, ‘Kill Dil’, ‘Mr X’, ‘Phantom’, ‘Piku’, ‘PK’ and ‘Yevadu’.
Zee Cinema premiered ‘Lingaa’, ‘The Shaukeens’, ‘Rahasya’, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ and ‘Shamitabh’, while its sister channel &Pictures premiered ‘Haider’, ‘Badlapur’, ‘Happy Ending’, ‘NH10’ and ‘Grand Masti’.
Star Gold premiered ‘Bajrangi Bhaijan’, ‘Bhaag Johny’, ‘Hero’, ‘Drishyam’, ‘Roy’, ‘Action Jackson’, ‘Guddu Rangeela’ and ‘Ek Villain’.
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