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GECs vow on Bolly-busters to up viewership
From time immemorial movies have served as an extra value pack to general entertainment channels. While fiction remained the staple diet for the lot, movies dished up the programming lineup, especially on weekends, as an eagerly awaited dessert.

The design was to attract additional viewership that went beyond the traditional eyeballs (target group), evidently flocking onto the respective channels to prey on their regular dose of fiction.

While the trend continues even today, freshness and contribution from movies as a genre towards the Hindi GEC is significantly scaling up more effectively. Channels are pursuing hard to pocket big ticket movies and persistently locking in air-time for them within the smallest time-gap from their theatrical release. This means, for some, accessibility on TV could be just four weeks after the theatrical release while for a few the availability would be six-seven months post hitting the plexes.

Take for instance the Ranbir Kapoor-Katrina Kaif starrer Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani. Colors premiered the movie in December 2009, just a month after its theatrical release. The movie garnered a 7.45 TVR (C&S 4+, HSM), contributing 50.2 GRPs to the channel. On the other hand, Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots was on Sony seven months after its release and was a table turner for the channel as it earned 91.8 GRPs (10.88 TVR) to make Sony the third Hindi GEC for that week.

Says Viacom 18 CCO and head international business Gaurav Gandhi, “Big ticket movies always act as a differentiator to boost channel viewership while helping audiences at that point in time to sample other properties. Thus, it broad bases the typical GEC audience and draws in an entire family viewing.”

Elaborating further, Star India EVP marketing and communications Anupam Vasudev says, “TV channels now-a-days aim to show movies earlier, shortening the window gap, because of the recency effect on the viewer's mind. And because it adds to the content variety, it plays a strategic role in fulfilling consumer requirements.”

A complete change in the cost recovery model for movies has also accelerated the eagerness of channels to showcase such products within a shorter window span. Besides quoting huge satellite right prices for their movies, producers have found other avenues like home video and DTH to exploit and monetise their products; and the modes are available even if the movies have crashed or performed average at the box-office.

“Since piracy is always at an all-time high, broadcasters think ‘why wait’ and ‘why not’ make the movies available to the audience as soon as they can!”, Gandhi adds.

Consider this: average box office performers such as All The Best, De Dana Dan and Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge along with the box office disaster Veer managed to do favourably well on television with each grabbing an above 3 TVR.

All The Best on Zee TV earned a 4.23 TVR during its premiere, fetching 25.2 GRPs for the channel; De Dana Dan on Star Plus got 3.97 TVR and 26.9 GRPs; Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge on Star Plus did 3.32 TVR and fetched 16.6 GRPs while Veer got a 3.55 TVR to earn 23.1 GRPs for the same.

Top Bollywood Movies aired in GEC during 2010 in HSM Mkt
Rank Channel Programme TVR% GRPs
1. Sony Entertainment TV 3 Idiots 10.88 91.8
2. Colors Ajab Prem ki Ghazab kKahani 7.45 50.5
3. Zee TV All the Best 4.23 25.2
4. Star Plus De Dana Dan 3.97 26.9
5. Star Plus Wanted 3.95 27.5
6. Star Plus Veer 3.55 23.1
7. Star Plus Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge 3.32 16.6
8. Star Plus Paa 2.85 19.4
9. Colors Do Knot Disturb 2.45 13.1
10. Zee TV Kambakkht Ishq 2.22 11.6
11. Colors Toh Baat Pakki 2.2 9.4
12. Sony Entertainment TV Dil Bole Hadippa 2.14 15.5
13. Star Plus My Name is Khan 2.14 15.5
14. Colors Kites 2.14 12.4
15. Colors Whats your Raashee 1.37 10.5
Source: TAM | TG: CS 4+ yrs | Period: Jan to July 2010

“TV provides free viewing even to flop films. So people who chose not to pay high ticket prices at multiplexes for such movies will anyway watch the film on TV thereby upping the viewership base,” says a top media planner on conditions of anonymity.

But does this mean that movie premieres, especially the big tickets, always pull in mass eyeballs? Not really. Industry players believe that the TV viewership success of a movie is the functionality of its content and the rigorous promotion that the channel performs. And therefore, a low marketing push for box office hits like My Name Is Khan (Star Plus) and Wanted (Star Plus) on TV did just average as they drew in 2.14 TVR and 3.95 TVR respectively.

Top Bollywood Movies aired in GEC during 2010 in All India Market
Rank Channel Programme TVR% GRPs
1. Sony Entertainment TV 3 Idiots 8.55 72.1
2. Colors Ajab Prem ki Ghazab kKahani 5.59 37.6
3. Zee TV All the Best 3.16 18.9
4. Star Plus De Dana Dan 2.96 20.0
5. Star Plus Wanted 3.04 21.2
6. Star Plus Veer 2.75 17.9
7. Star Plus Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge 2.5 12.5
8. Star Plus Paa 2.24 15.2
9. Colors Do Knot Disturb 1.8 9.6
10. Zee TV Kambakkht Ishq 1.65 8.6
11. Colors Toh Baat Pakki 1.63 7.0
12. Sony Entertainment TV Dil Bole Hadippa 1.68 12.2
13. Star Plus My Name is Khan 1.74 12.6
14. Colors Kites 1.61 9.3
15. Colors Whats your Raashee 1.05 8.0
Source: TAM | TG: CS 4+ yrs | Period: Jan to July 2010

3 Idiots, on the other hand, went through an aggressive marketing process. The movie certainly grabbed a historical share of the viewership in the Hindi GEC space but the push also came in from meticulous promotional initiatives. Sony devised strategic promotional activity with the cast of the film and infused it into the programming of the channel which helped in further driving up the viewership.

Also, interestingly, as part of the promos, Sony offered viewers the chance to enter a competition to win one of the iconic chairs from the movie and the response received was the highest ever from any movie competition on the channel.

Broadcasters affirm that, even though exorbitantly priced, movies can recover the prices paid by them if the products are promoted rightly so as to grab advertiser’s attention. This is because such premieres not only summon a spike for the channel, but is surely a boon for the advertisers too who associate with them. “When advertisers walk on board as sponsors, the deals include multi-week promotional campaigns on the channel’s other properties – fiction, non-fiction, events – exhibiting a visible sponsor label. Also, due to expanded viewership from such premieres, the advertisers get more exposure,” says Gandhi.

Adds Filmy business head Rajeev Chakrabarti , ”Big ticket movies premiered on GEC channels are strategic programming spikes around which channels attempt to garner viewer and advertiser’s attention. The networks pay a very heavy price towards acquiring these titles and ultimately, the frequency and viability of such big-ticket ‘premieres’ need to justify the cost-to-reward ratio in line with the business objective.”

The window-gap between a movie’s theatrical release and TV broadcast has also shortened because the maximum collection that it garners is within the first two-three weeks at the plexes.

Says a media planner, “Eight years back, about 200-300 prints of a movie were circulated and it took about six months to complete full national coverage. But today with the advent of multiplexes, 500-1000 prints of movies are released and it takes just two-three weeks for theatrical recovery.”

Talking about placements, Mediaedge:cia India MD T Gangadhar informs that movies are strategically placed for weekend viewing because GECs are frail on fiction during this part of the week.

Zee TV marketing head Akash Chawla, however, believes that movies must be chosen on novelty factor and should only act as new-audience-attracters rather than GRP boosters.

“The primary challenge for a Hindi GEC is to maintain consistency and not become dependable on movies. Putting up movies in the programming schedule to just get numbers without encashing them to generate maximum revenues is not part of our strategy,” he says.
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