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Zee Telugu bets on mega movies - Sathish - 02-28-2009

MUMBAI: Zee Telugu is giving its filmed entertainment content the first big push. The channel, which achieved a break-even status in the second quarter of this fiscal, has lapped up 24 big movies for an undisclosed amount.

In a TV-viewing market which is high on movies, Zee's aggressive move is directed at spiking up ratings. A steep rise in film acquisition costs has not justified advertising revenues and even Sun Network's Gemini, which leads the pack of Telugu GECs, has kept away from such bids.

"This is the first time we have invested into a bulk of movies. We have taken perpetual rights (all rights for 99 years) for almost the whole lot. And for the few others, we have acquired 12-25 years unlimited telecast rights. It will help boost our reach and ratings,” says Zee Telugu CEO Sanjay Reddy.

The roster includes Kotha Bangaru Lokam, Paandurangadu, Vinayakudu, Krishna, Ashta Chamma, Gorintaku, Bhadradri, Ready, Krishnarjuna, Nenu Meeku Thelusa, Okka Magadu, Bujji Gadu, Ontari, Navavasantham, Sasirekha Parinayam, Swagatham, Bhale Dongalu, Victory, Kantri, Surya S/o Krishnan, Sidhu from Sikakulam, Tulasi, Avakai Biryani and Maisamma IPS.

Zee Telugu , which has seen an upsurge in ratings with mainly its non-fiction programming such as Saregamapa, was weak on movie content as compared to its competiting networks.

The price for the satellite TV rights of a Telugu blockbuster movie is as high as Rs 40 million, making revenue realisation on such content really tough. Zee amortises the movie cost over a period of five years.

"In this market where costs have gone up, movies are not acquired with the pure RoI (return on investment) motive. We use them for tactical reasons and for driving audiences into our fiction and non-fiction properties," admits Reddy.