Everyday creative content trumps Bollywood’s for the current generation.
Gone are the days when broadcasters were eager to shell out more than ?200 crore for the satellite television rights of new Hindi films. Now, general entertainment channels dominate the scene, edging out movie broadcasters from the overall pie.
From the de rigeur saas-bahu serials, romantic dramas, thriller episodes, comedy and crime shows, general entertainment channels (GECs) constitute habitual viewing for most consumers. So much so that movie broadcast channels were forced to take a backseat last year. Major movie broadcasters like Sony, Multi Screen Media (MSM), Star India and Zee Entertainment adopted a wait-and-watch strategy to buy new film rights. Poor ratings of some of the blockbusters on television forced many to rethink their strategy.
“GECs tend to offer new programming every day. Most have a fresh approach to storytelling and are entertaining to almost all age groups,” said Neeraj Vyas, EVP and Business Head for Sony Max and Max2. The same does not hold true for movies; some old Bollywood hits are no longer relevant to the current generation. However, Vyas insisted that the overall reach of the genre has not really dropped. Currently, while the GEC share of the genre in the overall pie is around 32-35 per cent, Vyas said movies tend to command a respectable 16 per cent share.
A Zee official maintained that blockbusters have not been delivering the kind of ratings they delivered four years ago. “Newer films do not have the longevity of older films. The biggest Bollywood films are crashing in one of two airings on TV,” added another official.
The Hindi GEC genre remains highly competitive with four channels: Star Plus, Colors, Zee TV and Sony competing for the top spot. Competition has ensured that content remains the key differentiating factor, resulting in higher investments to acquire or to produce content, say analysts.
Though the GEC space continues to face headwind in terms of competitive pressures and rising content costs, healthy growth in advertising revenue has helped ensure fresh programming, and in some cases, good ads for second chapters. The second run of Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate, for instance, saw many sponsors and presenting sponsors. Media agencies indicated that advertisers shelled out ?3.5 to ?4 lakh for a 10-second spot in the second part of the show.
To ensure high ad revenue, the top six Hindi GECs launched 31 new fiction shows in 2014. Zee TV launched seven new shows and Star Plus and Life OK each launched six new shows. Sony Entertainment Television (SET) changed its entire line up with five shows and SAB TV launched four shows, while Colors launched three. Last year, the overall advertising pie for Hindi movie broadcasters was around ?1,400-1,500 crore, soaring by around 20 per cent over 2013.
Vyas insists that bigger movies do get the necessary traction. “Mumbai, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are huge movie markets. Even from a media planning point of view, the reach delivered by movie channels is virtually on par with what a GEC delivers,” he said, adding that Sony Max, Zee Cinema and Star Gold hold around 50 per cent market share.
Stating that most movie broadcasters were “not necessarily getting their price from advertisers,” Vyas added that historically, the movie genre, “has been undersold, though we are trading at much better levels now.”
Movie broadcasters preferred to continue with their earlier deals with production houses, and did not acquire fresh movies last year. While Star India continued with existing deals inked with Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn, Zee was locked on to new films from different production houses that it had entered into in 2013. Even MSM preferred to continue with Yashraj films.