Television

B4U Movies bags non-India rights for blockbusters

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MUMBAI: B4U Movies has announced the acquisition of over 200 films for the domestic and international market. On the international front, B4U will be showcasing the block busters of 2002 such as Devdas, Humraaz and Company .

Additionally, B4U Movies has also acquired international telecast rights and is already promoting films like Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam, Na Tum Jano Na Hum, Shakti, Lajja, Pyar Diwana Hota Hai; Vadh, Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche, Akhiyon Se Goli Mare, Hathyar, Agnivarsha in the international market. These films will augment B4U's existing movie library of 3000-odd Hindi film titles.

While major Indian entertainment networks are attracting criticism for their unrealistically high bids for acquiring the domestic rights of Bollywood blockbusters, the stand-alone channel with its Filmi; very Filmi positioning seems to have scored a point by staying ahead in the battle for the non-India international rights stakes.

B4U Television Network chief marketing officer Rajnish Lall claims: "We can afford to bid for the mega-blockbuster films due to the higher subscription revenues obtained from markets like the US, Europe, Middle-East, Africa, Canada and Mauritius." 

Lall points out that the major networks, that have a bouquet of channels such as the mass entertainment category and the movie channels, could afford to acquire the domestic rights of the mega-blockbusters at extremely steep amounts. "These networks screen the blockbuster movies on the mass entertainment channels first and obtain higher revenues because these mass entertainment channels command higher advertising rates as compared to the niche movie channels," he points out.

"However, it is a known fact that they have not been able to recover their high investments. As a stand-alone entity, B4U Movies cannot take the risk as we can't charge a premium on our advertising rates. Moreover, we turned into a pay channel recently and our current subscription revenues cannot justify the costly acquisitions," Lall admists.

B4U Movies became a pay channel within the first year of operations when it started an encryption feed from August 2002. "Generally, advertisers associate movie channels with female audiences and children. However, a recent survey conducted by The Economic Times showed that B4U Movies scored high in the male SEC AB categories and proved that the channel has a large base of loyal male viewers," Lall states.

The channel has a total of 18 hours of film-based programming and 6 hours of non film-based shows that revolve around Bollywood. "B4U has earmarked the 5pm to 7pm slot for the non film-based shows. Our research has shown that housewives and children prefer shorter shows during this particular time slot because they are busy with other activities and are unable to keep track of the longish films," claims Lall.

As far as subscription strategy is concerned, B4U Movies is keen on focusing on certain cities and pockets therein. "We are happy with the fact that the cable operators assure us a minimum guaranteed fee every month. We are not concerned about what they earn over and above the amount they pay us. Such an arrangement has worked out well with several individual cable operators and MSOs who show B4U Movies, " mentions Lall.

B4U has managed to get a subscriber base of 11.5 million households across the country within a six month time frame. Incidentally, B4U Movies has an equal share of 30 per cent in the western, northern and eastern parts of India. "In fact, B4U has a 70 per cent penetration in Kolkata; higher than any of the other competitors," claims Lall. However, the channel is weak in South India (Tamil Nadu, Kerala) and is doing well in certain pockets of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

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