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Content segmentation defines English entertainment, movies in 2017

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MUMBAI: It was the year of HD for English entertainment in India. Add to it, the bump up in the number of movie premieres and series that you could now see in better quality. Increased adoption of HD set top boxes encouraged broadcasters to go for HD.

Content segmentation has emerged as a big success for English entertainment and movies channels. Consumers today are evolved in their choices, they are abreast of the latest titles and keep track of their favourite stars and directors.

Times Network, with seven movies channels, garners one-third of the English viewership in India. It launched a channel named Movies Now 2 in 2016 and in July 2017 it was rebranded to MNX. In its inaugural week, MNX topped the chart with 2814 impressions (000s) sum. MNX was unveiled with the telecast of its first big bang movie- Mad Max Fury Road on 15 July 2017. 

Times Network EVP & head- entertainment cluster Vivek Srivastava said, “2017 has been a busy and exciting year for Times Network’s English entertainment channels. We have maintained leadership of existing brands and successfully launched new brands and created lively consumer proposition. Movies Now has maintained leadership in the category. MNX has been the most successful launch from the cluster, maintaining a very healthy lead above HBO. MN+ and Romedy Now continue to maintain a high share of mind in their respective categories.”

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (Zeel) and Sony Pictures Television (SPT), in October 2017 announced that they have entered into a first pay features deal bringing a range of premium films to Indian audiences.

As part of this, Zee will have the first access to Sony Pictures releases over the next few years. The new pay one deal marks the first between SPT and Zee Entertainment Enterprises in India and includes blockbusters as Spider-Man: Homecoming, Blade Runner 2049, Baby Driver, The Emoji Movie and Life, among others.

In September, Zeel launched a new English channel named &Privé HD with the tagline ‘Feel the Other side’. &Privé HD also introduced a unique technology on its social platforms – the world’s first twin screen trailer. This distinctive technology enabled viewers to experience the other side of cinema with the help of a second device in a fun and engaging manner.

For the premiere of Moonlight, the channel created a larger-than-life installation of a gun on a rainbow coloured platform, and for the premiere of Pelé, &Privé HD paid an ode to the legendary footballer with a magnificent installation of a life-size goal post with the numbers 1281 made out of multiple footballs depicting the total number goals Pelé scored. In December 2017, the channel celebrated the master storyteller, Steven Spielberg’s 71st birthday with a festival of some of his most notable films – Bridge of Spies, Amistad, Catch me if You Can, The Terminal, Super 8, etc.

Branded content is being added to channels to increase the viewership pie. The addition of subtitles has enabled Indian viewers to follow the flow of American, British and other unfamiliar English accents. Thus, viewership is impacted positively, and hence, English SLS (same language subtitling) became the norm on all English language TV networks.

Star World has an interesting line-up of new shows for 2018, including season two of the American Crime Story which features prominent international stars such as Penelope Cruz and Ricky Martin, and season one of the American supernatural sitcom Ghosted.

Sony Pix will bring an assortment of movies like the 2017 American erotic romantic drama Fifty Shades Darker, The Fate Of The Furious, which is the eighth instalment of the car-based action franchise, Despicable Me 3, a 3D computer-animated action comedy about mischievous minions and Gru, and the musical comedy Pitch Perfect 3.

In October, Disney launched a GEC Disney International HD Disney. The English GEC has 100 per cent exclusive and original content and caters to the age group of 14-25 years. According to Disney India country head Abhishek Maheshwari, kids grow out of animation after 14 years.

The year ended with a blockbuster deal where the Walt Disney Company acquired 21st Century Fox’s film and television studios for $52.4 billion. After the acquisition, 21st Century Fox will separate the Fox broadcasting network and stations, Fox News channels, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a newly listed company ‘Fox’.

With one merger out of the way, the big studios remaining are Warner Bros, Universal, Viacom’s Paramount, Sony Pictures and The Weinstein Company.

The English movies TV channel market in India is worth Rs 4.5-6 billion and the viewership of English content on HD channels is on the rise. In 2015, India had five million HD STBs, which saw a 160 per cent increase over the past three years. Today, India has around 10.8 million HD STBs.

"English movies have always been about smart acquisition and smart scheduling. Consumer segmentation will dial up the next level of growth for the cluster in 2018. Social media has played an important role, getting consumers closer to their content. As long as the platforms have a distinct offering and stay true to their content, viewers will be there", Srivastava added.

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