MUMBAI: The story of the revamped Zee Cinema is not one of great acquisitions. It's rather one of smart packaging and aggressive promotions.
It may not have the biggest film titles in its kitty, but the channel, in its new avatar from late November, claims to be doing pretty well with the films it has been airing in the last few months. With phase II of the revamp scheduled for June, the channel is now targeting appointment viewing, particularly in slots like the five pm band.
"Research conducted last year indicated that while audiences flitted in and out of a movie after the first half hour, most were clueless about the exact timings of when a movie would start on the channel. Now we are building specific slots, which people will identify with," say officials within the channel.
The phase II of Zee Cinema's revamp will kick by June, and is expected to gather steam by July. Quoting the top 25 movies aired since January 2003 on Hindi movie channels (on the basis of TV ratings point), the channel points out that audiences have been lapping up films which have a fantasy element/ animals/ supernatural angle to them.
It is the four to 14 age group which is particularly receptive to this kind of movie, surprisingly. Single TV households, coupled with a paucity of options in the evening time, seems to be the reason why Zee Cinema's telecast of flops and semi flops are doing well on the telly. Quoting examples and TVRs, channel officials point out that while Lagaan on MAX scored a TVR of 2.26, a flop like Maharaja, aired recently on Zee Cinema, garnered ratings of 1.62. Hit Humraaz managed 1.66 while a nonentity like Khilona Bana Khalnayak got a TVR of 1.58. On the other hand, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge on MAX got a TVR of 1.21.
Zee Cinema officials say that the network's research showed that themes with a supernatural element were the ones that were doing well --- the same trend as in serials. Like the Darr slot on Zee Cinema one and a half years ago which showed 15 to 20 films of the kind in the category, repeated on Thursday evenings till the library was exhausted.
Then the channel started with the Wednesday s Mix Masala at five pm, showing films like Hatim Tai, Anjali, Safed Hathi but discovered that only films with a specific kids' audience in mind are not the ones that will do well. A Little John, showcased on Zee TV as part of the Thursday premieres late last year, however did do well.
Now being shown as part of the Ek Ka Teen Premiere slot on Zee Cinema (the same film airs at different times on consecutive Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays), the films, albeit flops, appear to be doing well. As to why such films do better despite being flops at the box office, officials feel that low end involvement with television as a medium is one of the main reasons.
Whatever the reason, Zee Cinema seems to be on the right track.