Television

Themed Movies : Differentiators not high raters

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Movie channels have never had it easy. Take out the big titles and the premieres and what we have is an increasingly Herculean effort to bring some focus into the scattered viewing that prevails.

In the midst of this scatter, thematic movies suddenly seem to have occupied a whole new space and mindshare of movie channels. This is not to state that themed movies are a new occurrence, but like everything goes through a revamping process, themes too seemed to have adorned a new avatar.

And if earlier themes were generic in nature, essentially entailing genres marrying a day of the week, themes today seemed to have gotten themselves an artistic flavour. But, are themes working? Do they make a difference to the channel? Are they successful in luring the viewer? Is the advertiser getting his value for money? So the long of the short of it is: Are thematic movies justifying their presence cap-a-pie?

Analysis??? Cumulative Reach at 5 min+ continuous
Markets?? 6 Metros
Source? Tam Media Express

Apparently not. Looking at a case study of the HBO?s women?s day special theme which aired on 8 March with the likes of Girl Interrupted, Dick, Hanging up, The Bachelor, The Fast and the Furious, Erin Brokovich and Gattaca, almost all movies failed to fetch the expected number of eyeballs with the only exception being Erin Brockovich. This was monitored by Initiative Media which tracked it on 8 March from 7 am to 12 pm.

Females, 15+, ABC C&S

Channel
Start time
End time
8th Mar04
1st Mar04
23rd Feb04
16th Feb04
HBO
7:00
8:59
0.00
0.00
0.56
0.12
HBO
9:00
10:59
0.00
0.11
0.52
0.06
HBO
11:00
12:59
0.12
0.00
0.24
0.41
HBO
13:00
14:59
0.07
0.12
0.40
0.00
HBO
15:00
16:59
0.62
0.44
0.31
0.57
HBO
17:00
18:59
0.34
0.46
0.12
0.05
HBO
19:00
20:59
0.00
0.38
0.61
0.24
HBO
21:00
22:59
0.10
0.12
1.09
0.42
HBO
23:00
24:59:00
0.50
0.29
0.64
0.09

Note :- Only dayparts marked with green were dedicated for Women?s Day special.

What the study revealed was that although the peg of the theme was topical and relevant to the viewers, the TVRs generated were no way higher than those delivered by "normal" films.

Males, 15+, ABC C&S

Channel
Start time
End time
8th Mar04
1st Mar04
23rd Feb04
16th Feb04
HBO
7:00
8:59
0.22
0.17
0.55
0.43
HBO
9:00
10:59
0.06
0.17
0.32
0.40
HBO
11:00
12:59
0.33
0.13
0.63
0.27
HBO
13:00
14:59
0.25
0.34
0.11
0.63
HBO
15:00
16:59
1.44
0.66
0.25
0.97
HBO
17:00
18:59
0.90
0.56
0.21
0.00
HBO
19:00
20:59
0.00
0.37
0.27
0.26
HBO
21:00
22:59
0.38
0.18
1.56
0.68
HBO
23:00
24:59:00
0.88
0.73
1.93
0.25

Note :- Only dayparts marked with green were dedicated for Women?s Day special.

Another finding that surfaces is that even with a theme like ?Womens day special?, where the TG is essentially women, the male viewers are far more than female, clearly indicating that the avid cinema watchers are more male than female.

Analysis??? Trend by Weeks
Period?? Made in India (Wk 3 - Wk 12) -? 11th Jan04 - 20th Jan04
  Regular Week (Wk 45 - Wk 2) - 3rd Nov03 - 10th Jan04
Daypart?? Sunday, 21.00-23.00 (21 hrs movie)

1Analysing the second case study which followed the ?Made in India? theme on Star Movies, a series of the best of Indian-English films in April, which aired at prime time slot that is, 9 pm to 11 pm on Sundays; findings show that only 5 out of the 10 movies managed to garner ratings that were higher than normal.

In the female audience section for example, the ?Made in India? movies garnered TVR?s of 0.15 as against 0.14 for other movies in the same time slot, virtually on par.

Females,15+, ABC C&S

Weeks
Wk 3
Wk 4
Wk 5
Wk 6
Wk 7
Wk 8
Wk 9
Wk 10
Wk 11
Wk 12
Average
Made in India
0.15
0.03
0.13
0.17
0.04
0.13
0.07
0.33
0.08
0.41
0.15
Regular Wk
0.29
0.19
0.15
0.13
0.1
0.31
0.06
0.09
0.05
0.04
0.14

For the male TG however, there was at least some upward blip seen --- 0.23 for the themed films and 0.17 otherwise. So yes, at least in the male TG there seems to have been a marginal increase.

Males,15+, ABC C&S

Weeks Wk 3 Wk 4 Wk 5 Wk 6 Wk 7 Wk 8 Wk 9 Wk 10 Wk 11 Wk 12 Average
Made in India 0.24 0.07 0.07 0.54 0.14 0.11 0.12 0.45 0.18 0.34 0.23
Regular Week 0.32 0.2 0.17 0.2 0.16 0.21 0.11 0.08 0.16 0.11 0.17

But in both cases one can clearly see from the graphs above that the margin of increase is nominal, which begs the question, why opt for themed movies when working out FPCs?

Star India senior vice president Deepak Segal elucidates aptly, "Themes are the science of movie scheduling. Themes help in defining a genre and well as defining a slot. It also enables focused viewing as opposed to scattered viewing."

So maybe fundamentally themed movies aim at appealing a certain section of viewers and hence also increase the spread pulling varied audiences across the channel. Themed movies increase the viewing to a sustainable per cent and if one did not have a focus then scattered viewing would prove fatal for a movie channel at large.

Another significant factor is that themes have become every channel?s unique selling point (USP). Hence, the transition from the very generic mundane themes to innovative whacky ones ensures the unique element of a channel. One can then safely say that themes per se are not the high raters but the differentiators of a channel.

Thematic movies are also very crucial as it gives the channel a fresh look, and packaging becomes a key factor. Advertisers also seem more keen to associate themselves with a holistic package. Secondly, they allow the advertiser the leeway to synergise the brand with the theme which would give them more mileage. Opining on the issue, Initiative Media AVP Manas Mishra says, "Typically themes will get a slight increase in cumulative audience where one could expect to create a little level of impact. Also one can make a brand connect positioning the product in better light. Although beyond a point there is nothing tangible and it just amounts to an interest and curiosity value."

For instance, if the theme revolves around the action genre, then something like the ?Axe? deodorant, can position itself well with the theme, hence one hopes to make a more strategic impact, then just a case of random advertising. The theme will also will draw a TG, which the brand here ?Axe? also looks at targeting and therefore will provide for a medium that focusses on concentrated advertising.

Channels are becoming increasingly aggressive with packaging their themes, also thematic properties enhance on air properties and hence exposes one?s catalogue more effectively.

Taking you back to the second case study with regards to ?Made in India,? the theme first made its debut last year (2003) in December with all the movies in the bouquet premiering for the first time. So, the first time it aired, the theme bagged a significant number of eyeballs and was a smashing success. Which brings us back to the point of, themes if effectively packaged, creatively programmed and strategically placed will get those eyeballs coming in, more so if the titles on offer represent new films.

Although themes fall in the C category as compared to blockbusters which would fall in the A category and premiers that go into the B category, the acquisition front also keeps themes as a significant player. Segal points out, "40 per cent of acquisitions keep the former in mind, while 60 per cent would be allocated to the latter."

Do theme movies attract appointment viewing?

Maybe not, simply due to the fact that appointment viewing as a concept has not yet taken off in India. Cinema viewing is still a very random affair; hence apart from blockbusters which guarantee some amount of performance in terms of viewing, themes form the main backbone and content for a movie channel.

Yes, themes are an essential and integral part of movie programming since apart from blockbusters, there are no other real drivers on a solely cinema channel. Yes, themes have become progressive and creative, and yes it surely has become the norm. But then again, since when did norms start qualifying as USP?s?

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