Television

'The branded slots, big movies have fetched revenues and viewership for the channel' : Mohan Gopinath - Zee Cinema business head

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 Being the oldest player in the Hindi movie genre, Zee Cinema enjoys a good brand loyalty. The movie channel's strength has been its huge library of movies. Regular festivals and branded slots have also helped the channel to maintain its audience base.

In an interview with Indiantelevision.com's Richa Dubey, Zee Cinema business head Mohan Gopinath discusses about the dynamics of the Hindi movie channel market and the plans ahead for the channel he heads.

Excerpts:

How has Zee Cinema evolved as a brand?

Over the years, Zee Cinema has grown a consistent base of viewers. And we have continuously taken care of our brand.

In 2007, we created many branded slots like 'Showman Show' which was a Raj Kapoor and Subhash Ghai film festival. It ran for 22 weeks wherein we showed almost all the RK Films like Bobby, Prem Rog, Sri 420, Ram Teri Ganga Maili.

We created 'Bhakti Ki Shakti' for mythological movies on every Sunday morning at 8:30 am.

This year we had a kids' film festival called 'Dopahar Zee Cinema Par' for which we roped in Darsheel Safary as brand ambassador for the slot. We showed children films like Life Ho to Aisi, Tarzan the Wonder Car daily at 12:30 pm for almost a month.

There are other slots like 'Shaniwaar Ki Raat Amitabh Ke Saath' and 'Cinema Hall' that have been worked as differentiating factor for us.

Besides the branded slots, big movies have fetched revenues and viewership for the channel. All these factors have taken the channel to a grander scale.

With movie acquisition taking the syndication route, how do you see the industry shaping up?

For all the Hindi movie channels, there has always been a good supply of films over the years. However channels only prefer the ones that have worked in the box-office and are popular. As these films are only limited to 25 to 30 titles, the cost of satellite rights of these films have increased. Because of which the channels have formulated the syndication route. We have to still wait and watch as to where it goes.

Have you syndicated any titles to other channels?

Lately we have not done any such deal.

All the Hindi movie channels are adopting this new business model. Why have you kept yourself away?

We dont want to plunge into things. We would like to go with our own bank of movies.

The newer films have shorter life span compared to the older ones. We are not discounting the newer set of movies but in older films there are some memories which you would want to recollect. Everything has its own patent time. Older movies have also done well. We have a different strategy and we would like to go ahead with that. We have done this since last so many years and established the brand.

You can't get better than a Big B. Ultimately the movies have to blend into good ratings and then monetize.

'The strength of Zee Cinema has been its huge bank of library films'

What is your strategy to combat the increasing prize of a movie?

We are very title driven. We are careful what we want to show with very limited purchase. We believe that equilibrium has to be maintained. Our purchase has been very careful.

In that case you have not been very aggressive towards purchases?

The strength of Zee Cinema has been a mixture of old movies. We have a huge bank of library films. Our viewers have constantly enjoyed watching them.

And in terms of big ticket purchase, for this year we have Dhol, Dhamaal and Taare Zameen Par. So we have a happy mix of both.

What other innovations have you done in the channel?

We have tied up with Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na to promote our branded slot 'Shaniwaar Ki Raat Sitaaron Ke Saath' (Saturday 8 pm).

We are running a contest wherein we will ask a question during the Saturday film. We have invited answers from colleges across India. The college which sends maximum right answers will meet Imraan Khan, the lead actor of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na.

Shaniwaar Ki Raat Amitabh Ke Saath developed its own set of loyalty. Why then did you think of revamping the slot?

After four years we have revamped the slot 'Shaniwaar Ki Raat...'. Now we will be showcasing all the big titles in it.

We wanted to take things forward to a much larger canvas. Along with Amitabh films we will also premiere other big films with big stars.

We have titles like Phir Hera Pheri, Dhol, Dhamaal, Vivah, Taare Zameen Par lined up for this slot.

But conventionally big ticket film's premieres are on Sunday in early prime time. Don't you think a Saturday night premiere is too late for your viewers?

If I want to explore my library to the fullest and want every movie to do well, then this is the best slot. And the kinds of movies that we have kept for this particular slot come with that kind of brand value and image.

The premiere time depends from channel to channel. There is no hard and fast rule on Zee Cinema. Vivah can also come on Sunday 12:30 pm or on a Saturday night. It is a family oriented film.

Is the market ready to accommodate new players?

Every market goes through a correction. At the end of the day every channel has a good strategy. What is required is a good three to four months of consistent viewership. I acknowledge the presence of every player. The competition will make us healthy.

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