New Delhi: Riding on its record box-office success and heavy on-air promotions on Sony, the Aamir Khan-starrer 3 Idiots got the best viewership ratings ever for a feature film when it premiered on Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd’s flagship channel.

The preliminary ratings provided by TAM Media Research for the three metros—Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata—have pegged the TVR (television rating) at 13.1.

Blockbuster: A still from 3 Idiots. Aamir Khan (centre), the male lead, worked closely with executives from Sony Entertainment Television to create special promos for the release of the film on the small screen.

In the six metros—Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore—the film clocked a TVR of 10.1, still well above the previous record achieved by Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani—with Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif in lead roles—in January.

TVRs reflect the percentage of viewers watching a programme at a particular time.

Rohit Gupta, president (network sales and revenue management) at Multi Screen Media, said the film exceeded the company’s expectations both in terms of viewership and advertising revenue.

On 25 July, beginning 8pm, 16.8 million viewers tuned into Sony Entertainment Television (SET) in the top six Hindi speaking metros to watch 3 Idiots, according to TAM. In January, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani got a TVR of 7.5, the highest for a film since 2005. The movie was screened on Colors, Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd’s Hindi general entertainment channel.

Gupta is tightlipped about the advertising revenue that the 3 Idiots premiere generated for the channel, but experts in the media industry estimate it to be in the region of Rs4-5 crore.

The film was supported by 12 associate sponsors, including Life Insurance Corp. of India (LIC), Cadburys, Airtel, Raymonds, Tata Motors, Tata Sky and Lux, among others, and sold its 10-second advertising spots for approximately Rs2.2 lakh, according to company executives.

The film, produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and directed by Rajkumar Hirani, has been a box-office hit, grossing at least Rs400 crore since its release in December 2009.

To grab more eyeballs, the channel was supported by the film crew in promoting 3 Idiots’ television debut.

“The week leading up to the premiere of 3 Idiots was called ‘Aal Izz Well Week’," said Ajit Thakur, executive vice-president and business head at SET, which refers to a catchphrase from the film.

That’s not all. Khan, the male lead in 3 Idiots, worked closely with channel executives to create special promos for the release of the film on the small screen.

“Aamir (Khan) is full of innovative ideas and happily promoted the film on the channel," said Thakur. Along with Hirani and Sharman Joshi, Khan promoted 3 Idiots by appearing on Indian Idol, the ongoing talent hunt show on Sony.

The breaks between the film telecast were also interspersed with special clips where the actors shared behind-the-scenes moments during shooting.

Although the cost of acquiring new and successful Bollywood films for satellite television typically ranges between Rs15 crore and Rs16 crore, film trade analyst Komal Nahta had told Mint earlier that 3 Idiots was sold to SET for Rs38-40 crore. At least two executives at Viacom18 and Star India Network—rivals of SET—who were also in the race to acquire the film, confirmed the figure. The executives declined to be identified as they are not authorized to speak to the media.

However, in response to a query from Mint, producer Chopra said the figure was off the mark. He did not comment further.

SET, the channel that lags Star Plus, Zee and Colors in rankings, has improved its total gross rating points (GRPs) in the last one year. From approximately 80 GRPs last July, the channel is now closer to 160 GRPs.

Shuchi Bansal also contributed to this story.