Mumbai: Bollywood’s latest releases could soon appear on television channels battling for ratings supremacy in the highly competitive Hindi general entertainment genre.

Star India Pvt. Ltd, which runs the general entertainment channel (GEC) Star Plus, has acquired the television rights for new films such as Rann, Paa, London Dreams, Aladdin and De Dhana Dhan, according to two executives from media buying agencies approached to buy commercial spots for these films.

Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint

Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd’s Hindi channel Colors, meanwhile, has acquired the television rights to new releases such as Kaminey, Kurbaan, Wake Up Sid and Chance Pe Dance, according to a Colors’ spokesperson.

The Hindi general entertainment genre is dominated by Colors, Star Plus, and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd’s eponymous channel.

The television screening of a big Bollywood release means a spike of almost 30-40 GRPs (gross rating points) during the week when the movie airs. That’s usually enough to help a channel move up one spot in the viewership listings.

For instance, Zee’s latest GRPs climbed to 309 when it telecast All the Best on 24 January. The film earned television rating points (TRPs) of 4.23 in Hindi speaking markets, pushing the channel’s GRPs up substantially.

Zee became the No. 2 channel ahead of Star Plus that week. In January, Colors telecast Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, which pushed the channel’s GRPs up by about 40 points and earned it TRPs of 7.45. According to the Colors spokesperson, “no movie has recorded such a high rating since 2005."

Mint couldn’t independently confirm this claim.

GRPs are the total of TRPs over a period of time.

TRPs indicate the percentage of viewers watching a programme at a given time.

The sudden surge in demand for television rights has pushed up prices of films. Joy Chakraborthy, chief revenue officer, Zee Entertainment Enterprises said some could cost as high as Rs15-20 crore. Zee has acquired the rights to telecast Love Aaj Kal and Yuvraj.

“The price is high if the film is bought on an exclusive basis for a five-seven-year term," said an executive from Colors, adding that films where the rights are shared with other television channels cost less.

And while some television executives and media buyers say channels do not make money on these films, others claim that they do.

Chakraborthy said that while many networks might not be able to recover the cost of acquiring these films, it would help them attract viewers and “build gross rating points".

Ajit Varghese, managing director of media buying agency Maxus India, agrees. “Films generate trials. It’s a high-investment game and may not be a profitable one (money-wise) for channels. But, on the flip side, new Bollywood films are a great marketing tool (against competitors)."

The Colors executive said most channels acquire rights for multiple years and eventually make money on their investment. “In fact, some popular films recover 70-80% of their cost during the first airing," he said.

Indeed, some films on offer command ad rates of Rs1 lakh for a 10-second spot, said a third media buyer, who did not want to be identified.

The going rate for Kaminey on Colors is Rs2 lakh for a 10-second spot, according to him.

The success of the film-based model has encouraged some channels to buy television rights for movies that are yet to be released.

Colors has already grabbed television rights for the yet-to-be released Rajneeti and Hook Ya Crook.

Sneha Rajani, executive vice-president and business head at MAX, which is part of the Sony Entertainment Television (SET) Network, said new films help channels achieve leadership, but added that prices need to be kept in check.

Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, which runs SET, will air the television premiere of Dil Bole Hadippa this month.

And the movies-on-television model need not be an expensive one, said an executive at NDTV Imagine, which has the second airing rights for all the new films produced by UTV, including Kaminey, Kurbaan, and Wake Up Sid.

Airing films over the weekend is “a good platform to introduce and promote your new fiction shows since the audience is glued to the channel for over three hours", said Gaurav Gandhi, executive vice-president, business operations, NDTV Imagine.