English movie genre rides on IPL to catch up with viewers at 11 pm

By Anindita Sarkar , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | April 12, 2011
The IPL (Indian Premier League), the much-sought after television property, is becoming a hot flavour even for the English movie genre.

The IPL (Indian Premier League), a much sought after property by advertisers since launch, is now also being used aggresively by the English movie channels to grab audience attention. On the lines of HBO's Hollywood Premier League (HPL), STAR Movies, too, has designed a two-month Superstar League to feed into the 11 pm block and hitch a ride on the cricket mania to grab eyeballs.

The channel has handpicked a mix of critically acclaimed and popular Hollywood titles that will be showcased under the banner. Some of these titles include Alice in Wonderland, From Paris With love, My Best Friend's Wedding, Hollow Man, Spiderman 3, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Hancock, and National Treasure.

For the record, in 2010, Sony PIX, too, had rolled out 'Pix Premier League' (PPL) to push up the eyeballs for its 11 pm time band. Now, in its second season, PPL has appointed cricketer-commentator Navjot Singh Siddhu to promote its series of 60 movie titles to be aired during the IPL season.

In 2009, HBO launched HPL to catch up on the buzz generated by the cash-rich tournament in its debut season (2008). The idea was to catch male viewers right after the IPL match with Hollywood action blockbusters at 11 pm, as they stayed up to surf through the various television channels.

Why the need for a branded block?

Properties based around IPL on English movie channels essentially serve two purposes. One, they allow channels to package these properties for the advertisers, and hence, monetise them better than their regular FPC. Two, it helps keep the buzz on the channel alive, so that the channel is not lost in the IPL hype.

According to broadcasters, the 11 pm slot enjoys high ratings, post the 9 pm slot during the IPL season.

Himmat Butalia, marketing head, Sony PIX, says, "The viewership following an IPL match jumps by 70 per cent for the overall English movie genre. This development leads to higher sampling and visits to all channels during breaks and after the matches. Also, due to the sheer number of viewers visiting television channels, this period is also an important time for advertisers."

With the ICC Cricket World Cup having coming to a close, IPL is the new lingo for this season -- a term that exhibits a strong affinity with viewers. The movie genre is trying its best to encash this fresh flavour, opine various media executives.

"The IPL is a very familiar name amongst viewers. Therefore, the association of any property with the IPL brand increases the probability of that property being recalled even more. They exhibit a top of mind recall value for themselves," says Anita Nayyar, chief executive officer, MPG.

The 11 pm block strategy also helps the English movie channels to compensate for the viewership erosion that takes place during the 9 pm band due to the matches.

The primetime block for an English movie channel is 9 pm. While only the India matches during the World Cup affected the block, the IPL's ill-effect on this band strength is the most.

"To compensate for this loss, the channels package their big ticket movies for the 11 pm band. The effort is to get back at least a part of those viewers who otherwise would have been on the channel at 9 pm, had the IPL not been on," says Anamika Mehta, chief operating officer, Lodestar UM.

Therefore, while every channel is trying to create a differentiation through packaging and different format adoptions, the overall reach and GRPs for the genre does not increase.

Is differentiation the key?

While the dissimilarity between the genres (IPL and movies) in itself creates a differentiation for the viewer to make a willing shift, the demarcation of the channels within the movie genre is what creates the recall value for the specific properties.

"However, the problem seems to be that everyone is doing almost the same thing. Hence, the impact for both the advertisers and the viewers is significantly reduced," says Shailesh Kapoor, chief executive officer and co-founder, Ormax Media.

However, differentiation can be built for the slot by choosing the right titles that offer a select personality under the specific 11 pm branded block.

"With better titles showcased, the probability of the 11 pm band being sampled more will increase," says Nayyar.

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