Small screen pays big bucks for Hindi films
The cost of acquiring television (TV) broadcast rights for Hindi films has surged, with Star India Pvt. Ltd leading the race in snapping up forthcoming big-budget films.
It has acquired the TV rights forRA.One,Shah Rukh Khan’sRs.120 crore sci-fi movie, for a reportedRs.37 crore fromEros International Media Ltd. The film is scheduled to open in theatres on 26 October. The film will be shown on Star’s Hindi entertainment channel Star Plus four-five months after its theatrical release.
Hemal Jhaveri, vice-president, commercial and strategic planning, Star India, confirmed the acquisition but did not comment on the price.
TheRs.37 crore figure reported in the media was inflated, Jhaveri said, but agreed that the price of TV rights for big-budget films had gone up.
“We have acquired a robust library of A-list films, many of which haven’t been released,” Jhaveri said.
Star India, the broadcaster that operates a bouquet of English, Hindi and regional language channels, has spent approximatelyRs.150 crore to buy TV rights for yet-to-be-released films includingRA.One,Rockstar,Don 2andBodyguard,besidesSinghamandZindagi Na Milegi Dobarathat hit cinema screens in July.
TV rights for films, especially “marquee movies featuring Shah Rukh orSalman Khanhave almost doubled in the last one year”, said Gaurav Gandhi, chief operating officer, Sun18 (North) and head of international business at Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd.
Prices of other films have also shot up by 30-40%.
“The price of the last big-ticket movie sold in the market becomes the base expected price for the next release for the producer,” he said.
The race to acquire Hindi film TV rights started when Viacom’s Colors unit bought nearly 30 movies last year forRs.250 crore and set the trend for forward buying or purchasing films that are still in the making. The broadcaster, which runs Hindi general entertainment channel Colors, bought the films for its yet-to-be launched 24-hour film channel, as reported byMintearlier. The channel is expected to start airing soon.
Too many channels are chasing too few films, creating a demand-supply imbalance and raising the film prices, said Kamal Jain, chief financial officer of Eros International.
“The demand for film content on 24x7 television channels is immense,” Jain said. “TV channels are confident of securing more eyeballs and advertising by showcasing some of the big-budget films.”
Eros International produces and distributes Indian and foreign films across domestic and international territories. The increasing amount being spent on acquiring satellite rights of films is setting a new benchmark, Jain said.
Eros International is expected to generateRs.240 crore from the sale of music and TV rights of new films and those from its back catalogue. Syndication deals for satellite rights and new media rights for films and music will fetch the company anotherRs.100 crore, Jain said.
The buoyancy of the market is evident from Viacom18 Motion Pictures selling TV rights forBuddha Hoga Tera Baap,Tanu Weds ManuandShaitanto Zee TV instead of keeping them for Colors. Gandhi said Zee paid handsomely for the rights.
However, the window for premiering films on television should shrink, Jhaveri said. Currently, it takes over three months between theatrical release and TV debut for films.
“It’s easier for channels to monetize when films are premiered closer to their theatrical release,” Jhaveri said.
Film trade analysts reckon that the increase in satellite rights was bound to happen, given the strong line-up of films in the next few months.
“Big-budget films with A-rank stars like Shah Rukh, Salman (Khan) and Hrithik (Roshan) can garner 50% of their revenues from satellite rights alone,” said trade analyst Komal Nahta.
Films are being marketed well, kindling a high level of interest among audiences, Nahta said. Production houses had back from releasing movies in the early part of the year over concerns that they would miss out on audiences because of the cricket World Cup and the Indian Premier League that ran from mid-February to May.