afaqs!

Max gets original for the much-needed differentiation

By Anindita Sarkar , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | September 09, 2011
Taking a cue from the ever-rising competition from the Hindi GEC slice, Sony Max has decided to differentiate its programming strategy through original content, with a weekly half-hour original titled 'Extraaa Shots Challenge' to its content line-up.

Today, movies are an integral part of the content line-up of any Hindi general entertainment channel. And since, the genre's insistent aggression on clawing blockbusters to garner expanded viewership is almost a 'fanatic' mantra across the spectrum, Hindi movie channels 'individually' are at a dire risk.

Therefore, taking a cue from this ever-rising competition from the Hindi GEC slice, Sony Max has decided to differentiate its programming strategy through original content. To begin with, Max will introduce a weekly half-hour original titled 'Extraaa Shots Challenge' to its content line-up.

Come September 18, 'Extraaa Shots Challenge' will occupy the 8.30 pm band on Sundays. It will quiz contestants on the various trivia that lay behind movie scenes and their making through a 13-week challenge.

Neeraj Vyas, executive vice-president and business head, Max, tells afaqs!, "Extraaa Shots Challenge is a logical extension of the 'extra shots' factoids that are shown in between movie breaks on the channel. We conducted a brand track research and found that 'extra shots' was a huge brand even in the lowest denominator of the Hindi speaking markets (read Sec C and D). Therefore, we decided to launch a short format quiz show based on the same."

Vyas believes that the new offering will maintain saliency for brand Max and exhibit the channel's positioning, Deewana Bana De, strongly. It will also improve channel stickiness and broad base the audience set. Meanwhile, it will also position Max as an important destination for advertisers targeting the Sec A and B cities, in order to bring in a balanced perception.

Max will continue with the fixed weekly half-hour short format original strategy with fresh ideas, and will bring back the second season of Extraaa Shots Challenge if the first edition hits off well with the audiences.

"The Hindi film genre is the second most important slice after the Hindi GECs. However, the time spent on this genre is much lower when compared to GECs. With the introduction of original short formats, we are hoping that the stickiness of the genre will improve," says Vyas. For the record, the weekly time spent on a Hindi GEC is an approximate 350 minutes and up, while that of a Hindi movie genre is over 150 minutes.

Meanwhile, the channel is also working on producing original movies that will find space on Max, six months from now. "We are currently at the scripting stage and are in talks with various production houses. The films will be customised for Max viewers and targeted towards the small markets of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, the regions from where Max garners maximum viewership," Vyas informs.

The production of such customised movies will also help the channel cut costs while bringing in IPR rights to Max that could be eventually exploited for revenue generation.

Industry players complain that the acquisition price shelled out for movie broadcast rights today are rocketing sky high -- somewhere between an average Rs 6-40 crore.

And since, typically, the premiere of a movie happens on a GEC, the effective rates are far higher when compared to a movie channel. For example, state media planners, a blockbuster on Sony Entertainment could command anywhere between Rs 50,000-Rs 1,00,000 per 10 seconds, while the same movie would make somewhere between Rs 30,000-Rs 50,000 on Sony Max.

"Therefore, such a move could actually help Max generate higher revenues in the long run and also help the genre grow," says a top executive from a rival company.

The Hindi movie genre currently stands at an approximate Rs 850 crore.

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