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Movies Now to go in for a revamp during the festive season

MUMBAI: Times Television Network’s English movie channel Movies Now is looking to go for a revamp during the festive season. This will be in the form of promos giving the viewer an enhanced experience.

Movies Now marketing head Shantanu Gangane said that the channel is talking to several international agencies. “We will be deciding on an agency by the end of the month. Our aim will be to promote movies in a unique way. For this, a series of promotions will be created. They will address our titles and properties. The nature of the promos will depend on our library. The process of creating the promos will take at least two months.”

He added that at launch Movies Now came out with a series of promos that used Hollywood icons and iconography. “Now through promos we will refresh the look and feel of the channel. There are several parameters of choosing an agency. One of them is the agency’s past credits. Also, the turnaround time, budget, experience of working with Hollywood movie channels and the number of projects that the agency is currently working on are also key. If the agency is working on too many projects, then they might not devote enough attention to you. For Movies Now and Romedy Now, in the past we have worked with the London-based agencies DixonBaxi and Weareseventeen.”

Expanding reach

The focus of the channel is to grow its reach to the 1mn+ towns and cities. “We will eventually look at smaller towns and cities. That depends on how viewership and revenue stack up against cost. Hidden cost in carriage has come in. Even in Phase 1 cities packaging has not been implemented.”

The other challenge for him is on the ad revenue front. “The genre continues to be undersold. Increasing the effective rate remains a challenge.”

Betting on ‘Rush’

On the content side, the channel will kick off the show ‘Rush’ from 7 August. It will air every Thursday at 11 pm. The series is about a hard-partying Los Angeles doctor serving a very specific clientele, those who have a lot of cash and a lot of secrets. Tom Ellis plays the title character of Dr William Rush who goes the extra mile for his clients.

Gangane said that while the channel could have aired it day and date with the US, a decision was taken to devote a couple of weeks to market the show. “Since this show is in its first season, it needs a push. We will use our network and print media to push the show. We are looking at opening up a ‘Rush’ helpline for secretive problems. We are still working on the modalities of this and are waiting for legal clearances. We are planning to tie up with a medical company. We will also be doing digital initiatives.”

Movies Now content head Mansi Shrivastav said that the show fits into the channel’s content line-up. “For us the 9 and 11 pm slots are equally important. We decide to go for the 11 pm slot because the 9 pm movie will serve as a good lead-in. There will be more audience flow. We chose Thursday after looking at what is airing on rival channels. For us to air the show on Friday would have meant putting it in a cluttered environment. A lot is happening on Friday in the genre. We want to give the show the maximum audience without clutter.”

She added that each episode has new instances. So there is no need to keep episode-to-episode touch. Talking about content trends seen in the genre, she said that there is no change. “It is still action, adventure thrillers and science fiction that channels in this genre focus on.”

Gangane added that broadcasters are launching different channels for different needs. “So Star Movies launched an action channel. HBO launched two ad-free channels. We launched a channel based on the emotions of love and laughter.”

IPL impacts the genre

During the IPL, the genre saw a 20 per cent dip in viewership, said Gangane. “Data volatility is there. Marking out a trend is difficult. Having said that over the past year, Pune’s contribution towards the genre has grown from five to six per cent to 18 per cent. However, Ahmedabad’s contribution has fallen from four to two per cent. What is interesting is that Delhi’s contribution has grown by five to six percentage points.”

In terms of viewership skew, he said that it continues to be 50:50 between men and women.

Marketing

Shrivastav noted that since channels are chasing content in the same genres like action and adventure, marketing is a key way to differentiate oneself. “Orchestration of programming is also important. We showcased the Bond festival to tie with the theatrical premiere of ‘Skyfall’. It was the 50th anniversary of James bond and we leveraged that. On our channel, ‘Rocky’ went through different rounds like Rockathon. We marketed Shaolin to position it as being sexy.”

The channel generally keeps the rights for titles for a year. The exception was ‘Rocky’ where the channel kept the rights for just two and a half months as there was an opportunity.

Rationalising properties

One correction that the channel has made has been rationalising properties this year, Shrivastav said. The learning is that too many properties do not work. That is because there is limited amount of time to promote a property. While properties do attract sponsors, those sponsors track the value of the properties being sponsored.

“We also rested content. Some properties get a lot of exposure. So we shuffle content around. Broadcasters today give more attention to resting content and ensuring that viewer fatigue does not happen,” she added.

Movies Now gets more revenue from spot buys. Shrivastav noted that before Movies Now came in, English movie channels mainly focused on the 7–11 pm time band. “When we launched, we offered blockbusters even at 1 pm and 3 pm. Then after seeing that what we were doing was working, the other channels started following suit. Today, you have a film like ‘Twilight’ airing at 7 am.”

Gangane said that the aim is always to market a property with the consumer in mind. “That has been another learning for us. While there is commoditisation, there is also opportunity in that.”