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Movie premieres, HD adoption, OTT challenge for English entertainment, movies in 2018

Movie premieres, HD adoption, OTT challenge for English entertainment, movies in 2018

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MUMBAI:  It was a good year for English entertainment and movies channels. 2018 saw some big Hollywood premieres even as channels went the route of content segmentation and HD adoption.

Leaving behind the concerns of GST and demonetisation, the industry did much better this year. Industry experts suggest that a small correction expected in the content acquisition cost in 2019. This will come on account of two things - revenue growth across years in the genre and the evolution of business models as some broadcasters are sharing their first output windows with SVOD players.

Times Network EVP & head-entertainment cluster Vivek Srivastava said, “We had a strong festive season and are now set for an aggressive Q4 to end the year. We have driven premiums, sponsorships and managed to deliver great value to our advertisers. The highlight for us would be the success of MNX. With it, we now have two brands in top 4 (Movies Now and MNX) and that’s a healthy space to be in. We command more than one third of the total English entertainment viewership and are poised to drive our fair share from the market.”

Two of its channels out of the four are in the top 5 list of BARC ratings week 49. Movies Now led the chart with 2769 impressions ‘000 and MNX was at the third position with 2213 impressions ‘000.

Times Network’s newest brand MNX has been dangling above HBO in six metro markets. The group has close to 1500 titles and 25-30 shows for its movie channels. The content comes from four major production houses Disney, MGM, NBC and Warner Bros which are long term deals. The network holds the second output of NBC after SPN India.

Sony Pictures Network India’s (SPNI) English cluster grew by 34 per cent in FY19 (17 per cent till date) as compared to FY18 (13 per cent). The legacy brand AXN, in 2018, emerged as the leader in all India 15+ market with 25 per cent market share according to the broadcaster. The channel introduced two new properties in 2018- AXN Premiere Club and AXN Bestsellers.

In 2018, Sony Pix witnessed some big Indian television premieres like Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, Mortal Engines, First Man, Skyscraper. SPNI business head English cluster Tushar Shah said, “We believe that content will continue to be the driving force. We at SPN offer best-in-class entertainment to viewers across all our platforms. Our programming and marketing initiatives are driven by clear consumer insight and deep market research. We are extremely happy with our content performance and are bullish about a bright future.” The English cluster of SPN picks up content from Disney, Warner Bros, NBC Universal, Lionsgate and PVR Pictures.

The English movies genre is a tough nut to crack with many players vying for a small viewership pie. But that didn’t deter Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) from launching a new channel to wow viewers. On 3 June, &flix was launched under its separate ‘&’ brand identity. The channel claimed that it was meant for those who are in search of new experiences and wanting to take quantum leaps. This also saw the shutdown of Zee Studio, an 18-year-old brand.

Zeel’s English cluster brings content from a large library of exclusive titles sourced from many independent Hollywood players and studios such as Paramount, PVR, Sony and Disney.

This year also saw &Prive HD cement its base in the market. The channel had upped its list of top rated movies to show during primetime. In early 2018, it had 450 titles to boast of, just a few months after launch, from names like Paramount, Reliance, Tanvir and PVR. &Prive HD is taking the non-conformist route, just like its target audience of 22-50, by even picking up films from independent producers in Europe.

Launching an exclusively HD channel and that too for the crème-de-la-crème of Indian viewers was a risk. High net worth homes are the target of &Prive HD but this is also the segment that can afford many other quicker options like OTT.

Turner India, which holds two channels HBO and WB also had a list of premieres to enthral viewers including Dunkirk, Wonder Woman, The Lego Batman movie, Annabelle 2, Transformers: The Last Knight, Baywatch, Justice League, Kong: Skull Island etc. In the start of the year, the network had its aim as engaging its fans deeper with personal communication through mediums that they are comfortable with such as WhatsApp.

According to the KPMG in India’s M&E report 2018, the English GEC genre saw an 8.5 per cent growth in advertising expenditure from 1.7 per cent in FY17 to 1.8 per cent in FY18, despite pressure on relative positioning in English viewership on account of the change in the measurement methodology. English Movies genre also witnessed an increase of 3.33 per cent in FY18 compared to FY17.

“2019 is expected to start on a good note with Q4 carrying forward the positivity and excitement of the festive season. The fact that we have some of our biggest properties – ‘100 Mania’ on Movies Now and ‘Kings of Hollywood’ on MNX only strengthens the proposition. Also with the elections coming up in 2019 and the economy going strong, we are likely to have a strong exit to this financial year,” Srivastava added.

Times Network estimated that the genre grew by 15-20 per cent more than the previous year’s figure which was Rs 700 crore.

There was an increase in the uptake of HD channels with 10-12 million subscribers availing HD services at the end of FY18. This number is likely to have gone up by the end of the calendar year 2018. The DTH players have been the front-runners in up-selling HD services to their customers with MSOs only managing to garner about 1-1.5 million HD subscribers. On an average, an HD subscriber results in a 1.5-1.7x ARPU as compared to SD subscribers.

Another challenge that these genres will have to face in the coming years will be that of the growing presence of OTT. With data cost coming down and access to content widening (over 30 OTT players already), viewers could be tempted to skip the remote in favour of their cell phones whenever they wish to watch an English show or movie. What still works in favour of TV is its picture consistency, which gets hampered on OTT due to unstable data, and the screen size. For now, it also looks like OTT players, including ones from SPNI and ZEEL, are more focused on creating new content rather than depend on seen ones to grow viewership.

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