Sony tastes success with ‘PK’ premiere, but what next?

MUMBAI: Big ticket world television premieres have been seen as viewership boosters for most of the broadcasters. Remember the world television premiere of Shah Rukh Khan starrer Chennai Express on Zee TV in 2013? It was this one movie, that did the magic for Zee TV, making it the chart topper for week 43, toppling Star Plus, which seems to have locked that position for itself.

World television premiers are no strangers to mainline general entertainment channels (GECs), which have been banking on their pull for over a decade now. Not only do they help bring in revenues for the channels, but also extend the channels’ reach beyond regular audiences.

Movies are like energy shots for GECs. They help a channel define its leadership - one successful blockbuster movie in a week could shoot up the GRPs for the channel and also its position for that week.

One recent example is Sony Entertainment Television (SET) which saw the highest increase in ratings during week 26 (2015) of TAM TV ratings. Courtesy, Aamir Khan starrer movie PK, which observed 6.6 TVR in the HSM LC1 market, taking the channel straight to the third spot from the bottom for the week.

According to an analysis conducted by S-Group, an Analytical arm of TAM Media Research, in the period between 2013-2015, PK stands second only to Chennai Express in the top 10 world television premieres post the implementation of DAS. The movie has zoomed ahead of the world TV premieres of other box office smash hits like Kick, Krrish-3 and Dabangg-2, which garnered 5.4 TVR, 5 TVR and 4.9 TVR respectively.

On the back of almost 1150 promo GRPs, PK reached 44.5 million audiences in Hindi Speaking Markets (including LC1 towns) with time spent by viewers standing at 72 minutes. The premier of Chennai Express, with 73 minutes, was just a minute ahead, while reaching 52 million viewers.

The data by TAM reveals that the on-air promotions of the movie were spread across 23 days on 25 channels, exposing 66 per cent of the HSM universe. Not just this, ‘PK moments’, a promo theme that focused on the eccentricities and likeability of Aamir Khan’s character in the movie, was the most effective in pulling in viewers on to the telecast.

The movie appealed highly to younger audiences, especially those in the 4-14 years age-group. Majority viewership came from metros and 1 million+ towns.

So the big question now is, if a channel like Sony, which almost for a year has stayed at the bottom of the chart, continue premiering big ticket films to gain viewership?

According to a media analyst, movies are not the bread and butter for GECs. “Movies are bought to spike the ratings and help create positive channel imagery. Movies are not acquired to generate huge revenues - rather they are used to boost the other programming and create channel imagery.”

The analyst further feels that it is treated as a good impact property because movies have a definite following and viewership that is sort of almost guaranteed. “The promotions around the channels are quite extensive and this just increases the chance to gain GRPs,” he asserts.

According to Maxus managing partner head of the north and east regions Navin Khemka movies like PK are big events for any broadcaster. “It’s like a big cricket match for the channel it will be aired on, helping it garner GRPs for that particular week. However, for a channel to sustain those GRPs and viewers week-after-week is not easy. You definitely see a spike because the movie is very big.”

Khemka believes that one movie success cannot change the fortune for a GEC.

On the other hand, another planner believes that Sony should do more of such big ticket acquisitions as it has the potential to draw audiences. “The channel has the potential to get good ratings. Not only with movies, but with any kind of content, if it connects with the audience,” he reasons.

Another media observer opines that research plays a crucial role which makes for a good result. “It is important for the channel to go to the TG and ask what they exactly want to watch, what time are they free, etc. Such factors should be taken into consideration,” says the observer.

It can be recalled that at FICCI Frames 2015, all the content creators emphasised on the importance of research, as it is this which defines the fate of any TV show.

 Star Plus general manager Gaurav Banerjee had said, “The biggest need of the hour is research and development, 75 per cent of the shows do not work because of poor research.”

On the same lines, Balaji Telefilms group CEO Sameer Nair said that emotion is same all over the world. Content creators need to research more and have good art of storytelling.

Expressing unhappiness to the current content system, Reliance Broadcast Network Limited CEO Tarun Katial had said, “Not happy with the content that is there, we need to stop, research and start all over again.”

Sony’s game plan for the coming months

Going to what is really bread and butter for a GEC, which is a fiction content; Sony had taken another shot at attracting hordes of viewers to its prime time fare. In its first step towards that, it launched a show with popular TV icon – Ram Kapoor with Dil Ki Baatein on 23 March.

Despite big actors, it failed to garner GRPs and is seeing the closure in the coming weeks. (Initially it was slated to go off-air on 17 July, but now has got an extension for a month).

To increase its content portfolio of experimenting with different subjects, it launched Reporters on 13 April which has been delivering decent numbers. But according to reports, it will see its curtains down next month.

Bringing new style of storytelling onboard, the channel will launch its next high-budget property titled Raani Mahal which according to sources will replace Reporters.

Produced by Lost Boy Production’s Vikas Gupta it is still in its casting stage. “We have not started shooting yet. We are still finalising the cast and location for the show,” answers Lost Boy Productions creative director Vikas Gupta.  

Secondly, Optimystix Productions is coming up with a show titled Jaane Kya Hoga. It will launch in August. Currently, the production house has been conducting extensive workshops for the actors.

Thirdly, Sony has teamed up with Balaji Telefilms yet again to produce another love story. Though the name of the show has not yet been finalised, it will see its launch in the month of August.

So will these shows help Sony garner eyeballs?

According to Khemka, the channel needs to ensure that the new content is sampled first. He feels that every channel today is getting good content and it all depends if they are able to get the stickiness of the audience.

“A lot of channels put up content, but the key to any good content being successful is the sampling. So it has to ensure that it is launching the content on the back of a big marketing plan so that people are actually sampling and sticking to the content. It is not only about one show, one hour or one day, for a GEC it is important to keep innovating day in and day out, to get the audience glued to the channel. Developing the stickiness and loyalty is extremely important,” he says.

Another media planner believes that the channel needs to put up the content properly. “They did not get the content right first time but will get it the second time. They need to understand consumer profile, what they want and get the content exactly on that. Definitely the research that needs to be done is not there.”

Sony, are you listening? 

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