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New Delhi: Zee Cinema will premiere Kangana Ranaut’s Thalaivii for television audiences on 25 December. The film based on the life of actor-politician J.Jayalalithaa and directed by AL Vijay, had released in cinemas this September and made Rs. 1.46 crore for its Hindi version.

Earlier, the country’s top two multiplex chains, PVR Cinemas and INOX Leisure Ltd, had refused to screen the Hindi version of the film, given the small window before the digital premiere on Netflix. The Hindi version of Thalaivii on Netflix was slated for a premiere within 14 days of release in theatres. The Tamil and Telugu versions, on the other hand, were acquired by Amazon Prime Video, which premiered after a month and were screened by multiplexes too. The film that cost Rs. 40-45 crore had sold the digital streaming rights for all languages for around Rs. 55 crore.

Movie channels on television had seen a viewership spike of 10-20% as more people stayed at home during the second wave of covid infections and there was a slate of films, more in south Indian languages, available for satellite premiere post their theatrical release earlier this year, according to media experts. Some broadcasters also believe small-town, massy audiences may not take entirely to discerning content available on OTT (over-the-top streaming) platforms and with few other avenues available, turn to television, including direct-to-digital films such as Laxmii that notched up big numbers for its satellite premiere recently.

Reduction in the volume of films available for release on television coupled with caution on the part of broadcasters (given that both television advertising and subscription revenues were impacted) resulted in broadcast rights falling 68% in 2020, according to a recent Ficci-EY report. However, movie channels contributed 24% of total television viewership and were the most viewed genre after general entertainment.

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