Reinvention is critical in a scenario where competition can throw a spanner in the works at any given point in time. Especially if it happens to be a genre as dynamic as Hindi movies, the only other mass product apart from cricket, that is lapped up with delight by one and all.
ZEE Cinema, the oldest Hindi movie channel (launched in April 1995) would know it only too well. After taking a backseat within the network for a quite while, seeing newer channels (MAX and STAR Gold and B4U Movies) emerge over the last two or three years, ZEE Cinema is back in the reckoning with erstwhile promoter of etc Networks, Yogesh Radhakrishnan (who continues to remain on board despite its merger with ZEE), spearheading its goals and objectives since November last year.
"ZEE Cinema has a market share of 51 per cent," claims Radakrishnan. Despite the assertion, it would be worth noting that the channel figures ninth on the Top 10 list of most watched channels with a total viewership (that is, urban plus rural put together) amounting to 62.96 lakh, as indicated by the current round (No 10) of the Indian Readership Survey (IRS).
Noteworthy also is the fact that it is the only Hindi movie channel to figure in the most watched channels list. Again, ZEE Cinema is ranked ninth in the Top 10 list drawn up for channels that are most tuned into as well as in the list of channels that show high reception. Individual figures amount to 1.62 crore for the former and 1.66 crore for the latter. MAX and STAR Gold are nowhere in the picture.
Clearly, according to the largest continuous media survey (IRS), old warhorse ZEE Cinema is ahead of its younger rivals MAX and STAR Gold. Radhakrishnan's immediate priority, since coming on board, has been to spruce up appeal for the channel, which did lose some sheen in the wake of stiff competition from a hyperactive MAX and a refurbished STAR Gold.
Packaging, graphics and film prints on the channel have improved, shorter breaks were introduced and content, namely movies, follows a distinct 10.00 am-1.00 pm-5.00 pm-9.00 pm strategy in keeping with its proposition of being a 24-hour movie channel.
Radakrishnan also introduced the innovative Ek Ka Teen Premiere backed by aggressive marketing and cross promotions to remain fresh in the minds of viewers. Movies screened were films that performed averagely at the box office and were aimed at giving them a new lease of life with the innovative concept of premiering them at different time slots on different days. "So different audiences tune in at different time slots exposing the film to a wide array of people, which works well for the advertiser as well," he says.
Movies screened include Dhund - The Fog, Soch, Durga - "movies that have done reasonably well but on a smaller scale" over weekends, precisely Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 1.00 pm, 5.00 pm and 9.00 pm respectively.
The channel has acquired a lot of 14 films, adding to its over 1,200 strong library of movie titles, and is in the process of acquiring a new bunch primarily for its Ek Ka Teen Premiere.
As the first phase of its resurrection draws to a close, the channel is concentrating on building individual time slots, beginning with the 5.00 pm time band. In fact, a slot-by-slot approach is the channel's new agenda with the idea of conquering time zones or belts that show high viewership. "We have done a lot of research," emphasises Radhakrishnan, "and what we have realised is that people relish a certain kind film during the 5.00 pm time slot. The same applies to the 1.00 pm and 10.00 am time bands," he asserts.
Fantasy films directed at children do well during the 5.00 pm slot, he states, and the occasional action melodramas with a high emotional content that are women-oriented in nature do well during the 1.00 pm time band. "We want to concentrate on certain slots and understand what our audience needs are," he says.
The channel is also beefing up its non-movie programming content by introducing quality shows of half hour duration. Currently, the Samar Khan-hosted Bollywood Tonight features at 8.30 pm from Monday to Friday. Two-minute vignettes act as fillers through the day and the ultimate aim is to consolidate marketing, programming and distribution.
"My aim," says Radhakrishnan, "is to place ZEE Cinema on par with the general entertainment channels, implying that reach is imperative." © 2003 agencyfaqs!