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Channels shop for blockbusters
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There's a mad scramble on Indian television. In the race to get to No 1 slot, GECs today have entered the broadcast market for feature films which is piping hot right now.

Lucrative deals between movie production houses and channels are being signed, and everyone — from the distributor to the GEC — is smiling from ear-to-ear.

The trend of airing new movies on TV has taken an all new dimension in the past few months. A month or so after a film hits the theatres, viewers get the chance to catch it on TV in the comfort of their homes. Movies like " Raavan", "Kites", " Houseful", " Badmash Company", "Khatta Meetha" etc have been aired on TV within a short span of their theatrical releases.

Speaking on the current trend, Sameer Rao, GM of a leading entertainment channel, says, "The convention used to be six months for the satellite premiere from the date of theatrical release. Nowadays, producers are more willing to give early opening on satellite, possibly because movies are releasing theatrically with more prints and the theatrical run is becoming shorter. We are now seeing most movies opening on satellite between six - 12 weeks from theatrical release." Trade analyst Komal Nahta points out that in most cases, movie premieres on TV help in recovering costs. "If a film does not do well at the BO, the producers manage to recover some cost through satellite rights, which in most cases these days are sold much before the film hits the screens."

Saurabh Tewari, programming head of a top GEC points out that the trend of selling satellite rights is a lucrative one today. "It's a win-win situation for the broadcasters and the producers. In fact, even films which failed at the box office managed to generate good ratings on TV and that's why all broadcasters are putting their money on latest releases."

In several cases, the price offered by TV channels for movies is correlated with the performance of the film at the ticket window. But the past few months have seen a rush to acquire rights at large sums keeping in mind the star and BO record.

Putting a perspective to competition vs money debate, Rao explains, "We usually first decide which movies we'd like to acquire. This is based on a programming objective of wanting to offer viewers entertainment across genres and production scale (from small budget, new cast to blockbusters). Thereafter, we try and negotiate reasonable commercial terms. Competition does have an impact, both on pricing and availability of titles." Tewari points out, "Both are dependent on one another. Films today rely heavily on TV satellite rights to generate revenue. Similarly, channels in order to maintain lead over rivals use new films to boost numbers."

Source: The Times of India

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