New Delhi: Broadcaster Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd has bought the satellite television rights to nearly 30 new Hindi films that are lined up for theatrical release, at an estimated Rs.250 crore, a group executive said.
Rajesh Kamat, chief executive of Colors and chief operating officer of Viacom, declined to comment on the investment, but said his firm has “acquired a lion’s share of the big budget films scheduled for release between now and March 2011”.
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Viacom’s flagship Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC), Colors, is the No. 2 player in the segment after Star Plus. Media experts say that Viacom is buying out films as it plans to launch a Hindi movie channel.
“Having established Colors as one of the frontrunners in the GEC category, we’re now exploring other options in mass entertainment categories, and (a) movie channel is one of them,” said Kamat responding to the query on channel plans. He did not say when the new channel would be launched.
Among the new big budget movies acquired by Viacom are films such as Salman Khan’s Dabbang, Guzaarish, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Tees Maar Khan starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, Golmaal 3, and Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey starring Deepika Padukone and Abhishek Bachchan, according to Kamat.
Industry experts say Viacom’s eventual entry into the Hindi film channel space is only natural. “It is a good business to be in. The top-rated Hindi film channels make between Rs.220 crore and Rs.250 crore in advertising revenue a year,” said Rohit Gupta, president of network sales at Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, which runs MAX, a film and sports channel.
According to TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd, the television viewership monitoring agency, there are 12 channels in the Hindi film genre, including Zee Cinema, Zee Action, Zee Classic, UTV Movies, Star Gold, Filmy from Sahara and B4U Movies. However, not all are doing well. “You need a good library and must be a smart marketeer to make a dent in this space,” Gupta said.
The group executive mentioned earlier, who did not want to be identified, said that with the new films, Viacom’s library would swell to 200 movies. The rights to most of the new films are exclusive to the broadcaster for five-seven years, said Kamat.
TV rights to some of the big films such as Dabbang and Tees Maar Khan were acquired for between Rs.12 crore and Rs.15 crore. However, to recoup its cost, Viacom can syndicate these rights to other broadcasters both in India and abroad. The company has also acquired rights to films that are still in the making such as Saat Khoon Maaf by Vishal Bhardwaj, Akshay Kumar-starrer Patiala House and No One Killed Jessica, among others. For producers, it makes sense to get broadcasters to underwrite a chunk of the costs of making a film by selling TV rights early. For instance, Tees Maar Khan cost Rs.40 crore to make, according to a film trade analyst and Colors has acquired its TV rights for Rs.12 crore even before its release.
For now, Kamat will focus on driving the gross rating points (GRP) of Colors through the new films. GRP is the total of television rating points (TRPs), which reflect the percentage of viewers watching a programme at a particular time. Experts say a film that fetches a TRP of around seven, lifts a channel’s GRP by 40-50 points in a week. For instance, Sony’s GRP jumped from 162 points to 270 in the week it telecast Aamir Khan-starrer 3 Idiots on the small screen. The Vidhu Vinod Chopra film delivered a TRP of 10.
Advertisers buy commercial time on TV channels, especially entertainment channels, on the basis of GRPs.
Multi Screen Media’s Gupta did not divulge the revenue that 3 Idiots generated for the channel, but said the film was supported by 12 sponsors during its TV premiere. On Colors, Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani made an impressive debut at 7.5 TRP last December. The channel had acquired the film for Rs.4.5 crore and recovered the cost during its first telecast. However, Colors’ viewership and advertising for films such as Kites and Raavan was lower than expected. “It’s a hits and misses business,” Kamat said.