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Movies Now’s 100% ad rate hike fails to enthuse media agencies

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MUMBAI: That the English movies genre is undervalued is not disputable, but Times Television Network’s English movie channel Movies Now has taken a giant leap forward by deciding to double the ad rates on the back of its encouraging performance last year.

Television Network English Entertainment Channels CEO Ajay Trigunayat says that the aim is to increase the effective rate from Rs 3000 a spot to Rs 6000, contending that the channel has been undersold for a long time.

"With a very robust one year performance and an equally strong eight weeks performance, we sincerely believe that the brand deserves premier and premium pricing,” Trigunayat states.

He is, however, quick to concede that the channel will face stiff resistance from advertisers while at the same time asserting that the genre has grown in reach and viewership.

“The English movie category has grown by 50 per cent in terms of viewership. Overall the English movie channel genre will grow by 15 per cent in terms of revenue this fiscal. I estimate that it made around Rs. 4.2 billion in the previous fiscal. Performing channels in any genre will grow by at least 30 per cent. The rest will struggle,” he explains.

He says that the channel follows an RODP and ROS route for advertising. "We are flexible depending on a client’s needs and outlay. We have over 260 clients and over 500 brands like Coca-Cola, Nokia, Cadburys, Parle, and Nestle.”

The question is whether doubling the rate is feasible?

Ashish Bhasin Chairman and CEO Aegis media feels it will depend on the performance of the channel but the mood currently is not feasible for such a massive hike.

"It would really depend on the performance of the channel. If there is a significant improvement in their delivery of the audience and ratings, they could draw in growth. But in general advertisers are not in the mood to pay, there is caution in the air,” he says.

Concurs Indian Media Exchange vice-president Sejal Shah, “It is not a viable thing at all to ask for a 100 per cent ad hike like this when there is no corresponding increase in viewership. Market will not absorb this kind of inflation.”

Pix business head Sunder Aaron feels while agreeing that the category is under-valued, Movies Now’s decision to raise ad rates by 100 per cent will be hard to get. “Price correction is due. However , Movies Now trying to double its rate is a stretch, given that the movies are all re-runs. The question is whether Movies Now can continue to grow in terms of viewership,” Aaron observes.

Giving the genre perspective, Star India president ad sales Kevin Vaz is not too enthused about Movies Now’s ad rate hike . However, he admits that a rate hike is imminent.

“At the end of the day, we are under monetised despite the fact that we deliver premium audience. It is high time advertisers start paying higher price for the audience that we deliver. Right now the rates that English movie channels get is peanuts compared to the kind of audience we deliver. With more and more premium brands launching in India, I think English movie channels will start commanding higher price since we connect them to their core target group,” Vaz affirms.

Says Lintas Media Group Head of Planning-Mumbai Dhirendra Singh, “If you compare the current rating, Movies Now is almost at par with Star Movies. However, in terms of rate if the channel is going to hike its ad rate by 100 per cent and audience will not be delivered more than Star Movies, then from efficiency point of view the likelihood is that the channel will get a hit.”

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