Press Release

Broadcasters betting big money on the small screen with Rs 100 crore shows

12 September 2013

A Bollywood filmmaker spending Rs 100 crore on a movie is no longer unusual. A Bollywood film earning Rs 100 crore has become even more common. It's now the turn of television broadcasters to come up with Rs 100 crore TV shows.  Star India is launching the Mahabharat on its flagship channel Star Plus on September 16, more than two decades after national broadcaster Doordarshan ran the epic series. The new Mahabharat, to run over 128 episodes, is being touted as the country's most expensive TV series - Star has invested Rs 100 crore on the project and spent another Rs 20 crore on marketing the show. Star India will soon have company. Multi Screen Media will launch a much-talked-about TV fiction series featuring actor Amitabh Bachchan later this year. The show will be directed by acclaimed filmmaker Anurag Kashyap. A company executive refused to comment on the amount the broadcaster was investing on the show, but he did say that the budget compares with that of a big-ticket Bollywood film. And in October, Colors is launching a suspense-packed fiction series starring actor Anil Kapoor. The broadcaster is reportedly shelling out in excess of Rs 1 crore per episode. Nikhil Madhok, Senior Vice President for Marketing at Star India, says the channel is targeting the youth with Mahabharat. The channel has made huge investments to create visual effects that would excite the younger audience, he says. "The characters have been given an edgy look so that today's youth relate to them," he adds. "We have tried to bring out different facets of human behaviour which one could relate to even in today's days and times." In order to generate excitement, the channel has set up Mahabharat museums at shopping malls in eight cities. In these museums people can catch a glimpse of the jewelry, costumes and weapons that have been used by various characters in the show. There is also a virtual tour to the sets of the show. For smaller towns, there is a museum on the wheels. The broadcaster has also taken Mahabharat to college campuses across the country, where students get to interact with the characters. For the Rs 100 crore shows, one would expect advertising rates to be higher than usual. A 10-second spot on popular game show Kaun Banega Crorepati on Sony TV is Rs 5 lakh. However, Star India, says a senior media planner, is charging its usual rate of Rs 2 lakh for a 10-second spot on Mahabharat. "Prices may shoot up once the programme goes on air and gets a decent rating," she says. Madhok of Star says the channel already has close to 10 advertisers on board and the inventory is filling up fast. Will Star India be able to make money on the new Mahabharat? Monetisation may not be such a big challenge, says Atul Phadnis, CEO of Whats On India, a TV search and electronic programming guide company. "Broadcasters are no longer dependent on the ad revenue they get in between their shows. International distribution has become a huge source of revenue for all of them. Many of them also syndicate their content to broadcast networks across the world. Finally, subscription revenue is also growing gradually due to digitisation." To get eyeballs of audience worldwide, Phadnis says that the broadcasters have to move away from their staple diet of Saas-bahu soap-operas and invest in high quality, edgy content. Thanks to fragmentation, it is unlikely that the new show will be able to match the massive popularity of Doordarshan's Mahabharat. Star India CEO Uday Shankar has previously said the company believed in building properties for the long term and was not focused on short-term returns on investment

Source: Businesstoday.intoday.in

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