Television

2014: The year of fatigue for Hindi movie channels

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2014 has been an interesting year for the Hindi movie genre.

The Hindi movie genre holds about 17 per cent of the total TV viewing pie which has been flat compared to 2013 and on an average per week, it clocked 1,187 GVM (Gross Viewership in Millions) in the year. One of the most positive trends observed in the category is the rise of new and smaller channels finding their share of voice in a cluttered environment. Digitisation has given the consumers today many options to tune in to varied content. Riding on this phenomenon, the Hindi movie genre has finally started to carve out more differentiated offerings and the viewership trends on these channels have been extremely positive.

Let me first share our experiences on Zee’s Hindi movie cluster.  Zee Cinema, the premier leading movie channel launched in India, also enhanced its movie library by premiering recent releases like ‘Entertainment’ and ‘Holiday’. In fact, ‘Entertainment’ was the highest rated premiere of this year. The Independence Day premiere of ‘Holiday’ also raked in good ratings for the channel.  In a unique offering, the channel also premiered Prakash Jha’s ‘Satyagraha’. The film was extensively promoted by the film’s lead talent Amrita Rao and director, Prakash Jha in key HSM regions.

&pictures was launched as India’s first interactive and premium Hindi movie channel in August 2013 and it continues to deliver on its brand promise. The channel that has grown from strength to strength in a very short span of time has pioneered trends in the movie channel industry. For instance, &pictures launched a documentary movie ‘Chale Chalo’ endorsed by Aamir Khan receiving thunderous response for this one-of-a-kind initiative from the industry and consumers alike. It also opened avenues for interactivity by introducing live call-ins for viewers with Aamir Khan for the first time in India. In fact, this concept of engaging with the viewers was again replicated by Aamir in promoting ‘Dhoom3’ television premiere and ‘Satyamev Jayate’. Helming the social cause, &pictures also premiered ‘Manjunath’ a true story of a whistleblower murdered for exposing the petrol adulteration scam in UP.

Zee Classic, on the other hand, has progressed tremendously this year. This re-instates our faith in good quality timeless cinema. The season 3 of ‘Classic Legends’ hosted by Javed Akhtar is the most viewed film based show on television. Zee’s Hindi movie cluster has gained its dedicated viewer base. The entry of Sony Max 2 in the same content space as Zee Classic has created exciting competition and it will only help us nurture the category and carve a niche in this segment.

2014 has also seen bigger channels undergoing a slight decline in viewership. One of the key reasons for this can largely be attributed to their dependence on premiering the latest blockbuster commercial films which add immense excitement to the content mix for all the channels. The comeback of commercial potboilers such as ‘Wanted’ and ‘Dabangg’ in 2009-10 made way for a series of such content being dished out from Bollywood.

However, 2014 shall be remembered as ‘the year of fatigue’ for such films.  For instance, the TV premiere ratings of films like ‘Kick’, ‘Singham Returns’ and ‘Dhoom 3’ almost shrunk by 50 per cent as compared to the record breaking ratings achieved by movies like ‘Singham’, ‘Dabangg’ and ‘3 Idiots’ between 2010-2012. 

This fatigue was even more startling at the box office with releases like ‘Humshakals’ and ‘Action Jackson’ that were expected to do well in theatres failed miserably. This occurrence also indicates that there is no fixed formula for success. Bidding for any film after a certain price is definitely not a commercially viable option and even exclusive star led deals struck with A-list actors such as Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn cannot guarantee definite success. Interestingly, these trends in overall viewership and revenues have finally led to the long overdue correction of overpriced satellite rights of most Hindi Movies in 2014. 

2014 has been a great year for Indian cinema as the so-called small films not only increased in numbers but also emerged into huge commercial blockbusters and with them, we also witnessed the younger actors achieve huge successes at the Box office.  Cinema like ‘Queen’, ‘2 States’, ‘Main Tera Hero’, ‘Heropanti’, ‘Highway’ and ‘Mardaani’ are clearly indicating  the mood of the cinegoers and the need of fresh and new ideas right now is more than ever before.  It’s only a matter of time such movies that get maximum footfalls in a multiplex will also find its space on television. The acceptance of such films will help us garner more eyeballs and I see a wonderful fit for such movies with the High Definition (HD) movie channels.  Zee Cinema HD and &pictures HD have already pioneered its presence in this space.   

With the unremitting motto to engage, innovate and entertain, we are excited and geared up with all our six movie channels. Zee’s Hindi movie cluster offers a very distinct and differentiated content mix and has a lot to look forward in the year 2015.

 (These are purely personal views of Zee’s Hindi movie cluster business head Ruchir Tiwari and indiantelevision.com does not necessarily subscribe to these views.)

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