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Star’s movie acquisition strategy
MUMBAI: Star India has virtually stopped acquiring Hindi movies due to exorbitant prices and has strategically scaled down the exposure of South Indian films on its movie channels.
Star Gold, the flagship Hindi movie channel from Star India network, has stopped acquiring South Indian movies. This is part of the channel’s strategy to cut down on airing South India movies dubbed in Hindi.
While South Indian movies dubbed in Hindi have been doing well on Hindi movie channels, Jhaveri said it cannot be a long-term strategy as not every dubbed South Indian movie is of good quality.
“It’s a strategy that will hurt everyone because you cannot play a bad dubbed movie. It doesn’t give you brand longevity,” Jhaveri added.
Observing that airing of such movies worked for Hindi movie channels, he added that Star Gold will evaluate such films.
“We air only those South Indian movies that we have in library, but we have cut down on the frequency of airing such movies,” Jhaveri stated.
He also stated that Star has virtually stopped acquiring Hindi movies due to unrealistic price escalation by producers.
Star can manage without acquiring movies as it has a long-term deal with two big stars, Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn, which, along with other acquisitions, ensures a regular slate of new movies for the broadcaster.
“We have not acquired a movie for a very long time. We are going very slow on acquisition. For us, we have ‘Kick’, ‘Singham 2’, ‘Bang Bang’ and ‘Bombay Velvet’. So we have enough on our plate for now and even for the next year,” averred Jhaveri. He revealed that the broadcaster has two Salman Khan and three Ajay Devgn movies lined up for the next year.
He also asserted that the broadcaster will only buy films if they come at a right price. “There is a price increase that happens on a Friday-to-Friday basis. The cost is unsustainable and the ad growth has to keep up. Movie X is making Rs 40 crore (Rs 400 million) so Movie Y which is releasing next week is asking Rs 60 crore (Rs 600 million),” he explained.
He also regretted the fact that broadcasters contribute a significant chunk of revenue despite being last in the chain when it comes to airing a movie. “After theatrical, piracy, home video and DTH premiere, we are the last one in the chain. Sometimes, we feel we are the 100 per cent funders of movies,” Jhaveri quipped.
According to him, doing long-term deals with Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn makes perfect business sense as there is consistency and pedigree with the movies of both these stars. “Success of ‘Kick’ and ‘Singham 2’ validates that. It’s a safe bet for us,” he affirmed.
Talking about the deal, Jhaveri said that anything and everything that they act in or produce gets sold to Star. The broadcaster has reportedly paid Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion) for Salman Khan’s movies and Rs 400 crore (Rs 4 billion) for Ajay Devgn’s.
He also said that the deal is a perfectly symbiotic relationship as the broadcaster gets exclusivity while the two actors get access to the Star network. The depth of the relationship can be considered from the fact that the two actors had promoted Pro Kabaddi League which was aired on Star Gold.
Star Gold and Movies OK march ahead
“Star Gold has seen quite a resurgence and Pro Kabaddi League did really well. It’s a nice build-up to the festive season,” he declared.
He also pointed out that Movies OK has been consistently narrowing the gap with the top three players. Its share has hovered around 12–14 per cent in the last eight weeks for CS15+ male audiences.
In the relatively premium audience set (male 15+ ABC), it overtook Zee Cinema in Week 34 with the premiere of ‘Bobby Jasoos’. In Weeks 31 and 32, Movies OK was ahead of Max in digital reach.
“Movies OK always had the ambition to be in the top three ever since its launch in May 2012. But to break into the top three in two years is a big feat,” he stated.
However, the top two positions have been oscillating between Star Gold and Max, with Zee Cinema occasionally inching ahead of the two.
With ‘Kick’ and ‘Singham 2’ expected to premiere during the festive season, things couldn’t have looked any better. “Our content line-up will open up now with the premiere of ‘Kick’ and ‘Singham 2’. ‘Bang Bang’ will come on TV first. Thus, we have two big ones and a third one yet to be released. And then we have regular spate of libraries,” said Jhaveri.
Admitting that Movies OK has cannibalised Star Gold’s viewership, Jhaveri added that this is inevitable considering that Hindi movie channels are library led.
“Star Gold and Movies OK have eaten into each other’s share and everybody else’s. You can take whatever positioning you want, but the channel will be defined by the content we play and the way we play it,” he explained.
So, what’s the best strategy to gain sustained viewership? “Pick your content, simplify invitation and provide good experience,” he affirmed.
Star Gold’s HD push
Jhaveri believes that Star Gold HD gets as good quality viewers as the total number of viewers of all niche HD channels. “Star Gold HD is doing well. It is equal to all the niche HD channels combined. It gets good quality audiences,” he averred.
Star Gold HD has a completely different FPC. They run their own festivals and grids.
The channel is getting further refined and has a new team to propel its growth. “We will experiment a lot with content on our HD channel. The degree of advertiser engagement is different so we provide a fair amount of customisation,” he revealed.
He also added that there are no plans to launch HD feed of Movies OK.