Movie acquisition costs up, channels innovate

MUMBAI: Hindi movie channels are feeling the heat of high acquisition cost as competition among them to grab eyeballs is intensifying.

Max has done the bulk of the purchase this year, mopping up movies from Yash Raj and Eros. The kitty includes Ta Ra Rum Pum, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. Partner, Gandhi my Father, No smoking, Cheeni Kum, Eklavya, Salaam e Ishq and Provoked.

Being enthused by the rich list, Max, in fact, has started screening in June "Saal ke sabse bade blockbusters."

Says Max business head Sneha Rajani, "The Saal Ke Sabse Bade Blockbusters reinforces the fact that Max is the ultimate destination for the latest and the biggest movies on television. The big blockbusters on Max are sure to enthrall viewers and re-enforce Max‘s commitment of fuelling their passion for movies."

As reported by earlier, Sony has pumped in Rs 650 million for a 16-movie deal with Eros. The package also includes yet to be released films like Nanhe Jaisalmer, Buddha Mar Gaya, Chess - A Game Plan, Friends For Ever, Mr Black Mr White, Mr Hot Mr Kool and Aur Pappu Paas Ho Gaya.

Sony‘s aggressive buying has put pressure on prices. Filmy has renewed its movie acquisition after a gap, making three purchases this year. Super hit Guru, Nishabd and Umrao Jaan have come at a price tag of around Rs 130 million.

Says Filmy marketing and content head Shailesh Kapoor, "It is a strategic acquisition as all these movies have the Bachchan family in them."

Zee Cinema has taken a relatively cautious route, acquiring just three movies this year - Big Brother, Nehle pe Dehla and Fool n Final.

Says Zee Cinema deputy business head Mohan Gopinath, "These are all independent acquisitions and we have not aligned with any film production house."

The channel will screen Big Brother and Nehle pe Dehla in July, followed by Fool n Final in August.

Star India, on the other hand, has this year acquired satellite telecast rights for My Friend Ganesha, Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd and Bhagam Bhaag.

Even as buying rights have gone up, channels have been innovative. Zee Cinema, for instance, has started screening a series of mythologicals under the Bhakti Ki Shakti branded block on Sunday mornings.

Filmy has been quick to bank on the Rajnikant wave following the release of Sivaji and acquired some Tamil movies of the superstar which it will dub in Hindi and telecast. The purchase, however, excludes Sivaji.

Says Filmy business head Ashutosh, "Looking at the performance of Sivaji, we anticipated the popularity of Rajnikanth and therefore caught up with this idea."

Filmy has also acquired Bhojpuri films and already shown Ganga.

So do the big titles only work? Says Gopinath, "They definitely help in strengthening the channel‘s position but only if they are promoted strategically."

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