Television

'We don't need to change anything drastically. All we have to do is perfect our existing properties' : Shailesh Kapoor - Filmy business head

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Filmy, the one and a half year old Hindi movie channel from the Sahara Group, has experimented with a varied mix of movies and shows to make a mark against established channels like Zee Cinema, Max and Star Gold. From spoofs to chat shows, Filmy is now set to foray into the reality genre with Bathroom Singer. To extend the Filmy brand even further, the channel has taken the acquisition route to bring the 'Rajnikanth' fever onto the channel.

Shailesh Kapoor who was recently promoted to the position of business head, speaks to Indiantelevision.com's Richa Dubey in an exclusive chat revealing the channel's growth chart and its plans for the future.

Excerpts:

After the initial impact, is Filmy's growth slowing down?

The channel has done pretty well since we launched in February 2006. Our foundation has been built in a short span of time and the perception of our brand has become strong with our constant growth. We have been noticed by viewers as well advertisers and have been taken seriously. I think most of the channels which were launched in last three to four years have not been able to do that.

But haven't your GRPs dropped sharply?

Though we had a slump in the period between April-June, our GRPs for the last three weeks have seen a rise. Tam expanded its coverage areas in January and older, popular channels have gained.

Is there pressure to modify your strategy?

We don't need to change anything drastically. All we have to do is perfect our existing properties. We have already started taking a few giant steps like acquiring bigger films and latest hits. In fact, the acquisition of a few more big films are in pipeline. We also have old films which means there is more variety in our library.

Additionally, we have also acquired hits from the Southern region including a few Raknikanth starrer films. We have planned a special Rajnikanth Festival in August.

You also have shown Ganga. Are we going to see more Bhojpuri films?

Our key focus is not Bhojpuri films. But being a movie channel we did find it right to explore the Bhojpuri segment because of its popularity. But we are not restricted to it.

Secondly, Kaun Banega Champu was taken off the channel for a seasonal break and there was nothing big at the time as we were planning our present and future shows. In this context, this gave us good visibility as Ganga was a good success.

If a film as big as Ganga comes, then we will acquire it. In fact post September we are planning to introduce a fortnightly slot for Bhojpuri films. But we are essentially a Bollywood channel and even in acquiring Bhojpuri films we have to be careful.

Will this help in improving your channel share?

Last week we had a relative share of 11. But most of our bigger properties are unfolding now. We have a slew of new films which will be telecast. We will have one premiere every month. And this, in turn, will help our distribution.

Has Filmy sorted out its distribution problems?

Our distribution has increased in the small towns and now it has gone up 70 to 75 per cent across SEC B and C. We are being viewed in a lot more towns where we were not previously available. So our relative share should rise further in the next few months. And we are going to promote our properties in a bigger way.

How are you planning to push your upcoming properties?

Previously all our activities were channel specific. As we were new, we promoted the channel as a whole. But now we are established enough to promote individual properties. Each of our properties have a specific audience base and keeping that in mind, we promote our properties. We use research, whether it be for movies or shows.

Our marketing efforts also depend on the property we are promoting. Guru was promoted at face value. All we did was highlight the fact that it is one of the biggest films of the year and the Aishwarya-Abhishek duo are in the movie.

Isn't it more difficult when you are promoting a show like say Bathroom Singer which you are launching on 26 August?

We have planned promotional activities across the various stages and have, in fact, kicked off the campaign as auditions are currently going on. The launch campaign of the show will start in August. Anything that is ordinary will obviously not be noticed. So our promotions will be completely fresh. However, they will all be property centric. Compared to other movie channels we have the advantage of airing shows. These are a lot easier to promote than films.

'In the first year, the key parameter was how the property worked for the Filmy brand. But from Bathroom Singer onwards, ratings will be the parameter'

With channels already cluttered by music talent hunt shows, why bring in the concept of Bathroom Singer?

The tone and treatment of Bathroom Singer has a different angle. As the name suggests, it is completely Filmy and not glamorous. Though it is coupled with a lot of emotions and drama, it is not stressful like other music talent hunt shows. One thing that worked for us is that it has no age barriers and it has opened up the flood gates to participation.

In the first round of auditions, we received five times the crowd we expected. There was even an 80-year-old man who was selected for the second round. We got to see amazing talent from people who could sing in reverse, in multiple languages and in various voices. All this is possible because we are not looking for a trained voice. It is like a packaged deal. The originality of the content will come from its treatment. We have our fingers crossed and wish to get good results.

How do you slot programmes on the channel?

We showcase three movies a day and rest of our programming consists of shows like Meri Bhains ko anda kyun Mara, Rokky's 99, Aaj ke Filmy Khabar. Bathroom Singer has been positioned as a weekly on Sunday primetime. We have also introduced a Sunday 10 am to 2 pm slot for kids where we are airing animated TV series like The Jungle Book. Based on the responses, we will show more properties that are unexposed in the Indian market. Our focus, though, is on Sunday primetime which is important for us.

Can you identify the properties that have stood out for the channel and which were the underperformers?

In the first year, the key parameter was based on how the property worked for the Filmy brand. But from Bathroom Singer onwards, ratings will be the parameter.

As for shows that have done well for us, Kaun Banega Champu got us ratings. Lallan has been a successful character. Though Rokky was not popular initially, we gave it the right platform and this was supported by good creative content.

There were some things that didn't work for us. Our short film festival didn't do well because it was very niche. Lal Gulab and Ruchi Reporter also did not go down well, so we discontinued it.

What about Filmy Stock Exchange?

Filmy stock exchange is an online property and was very successful. TV viewers are not familiar with it, so we are still evaluating whether to get it on TV or not. We might get somebody from the internet business to partner with us for this.

Have advertisers been difficult to get with low GRPs?

Advertisers come for three reasons. First they come for TRPs, secondly for good properties and thirdly for the brand image that the channel carries. Tam data reveals that our audience profile is different and advertisers targeting them will come to us. We have been doing well in metros. Although Filmy has a mass appeal as a Hindi movie channel, it has the attitude of being a youth channel. The youth are our loyal viewers.

How would you evaluate the last year in terms of return on investments?

Our revenues have been increasing month after month. We have kept our costs under control. We, in fact, have reached a break even status and and hope to do even better in the second year.

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