Two years ago, ZEE TV had pioneered the concept of television premieres of Hindi movies.
It was an instant success. The reasons may have been linked to weaning away Kyunki... and Kahani... audience from STAR Plus, but Zee TV had definitely received audience appreciation from its early programming of the Thursday Premiere. Notable movies in that period were Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Gadar - Ek Prem Katha.
Those were the heady days for the channel.
Today, as per TAM Media research (C&S 4+ SEC ABC, All Hindi Speaking Markets), it seems that the viewership of ZEE TV's Thursday Premiere is slipping. Movies such as Waisa Bhi Hota Hai-I and Tum - A dangerous obsession got a massive thumbs-down from the audience with TVRs of 0.55 and 0.97. Even the channel's top performers like Tumko Na Bhul Payenge and Ek Hasina Thi could only manage passable TVRs of 1.46 and 1.29, respectively.
Compare this to the STAR Plus and MAX starrers. Gangaajal on MAX (Saturday, 8.00 pm) managed a TVR of 3.65, while Raaz on STAR Plus (Saturday, 8.00 pm) had a TVR of 3.17.
Even forgettable flicks such as Dil Ka Rishta (STAR Plus) and Khel (MAX) got a TVR of 2.68 and 2.27 respectively.
So, does this point at a trend that weekend movies are doing much better than their Thursday counterparts? More importantly, with ZEE's viewership for the Thursday premiere going down, wouldn't it be a strategic move for ZEE to shift to the weekend slot?
Media planners seem to think so. Gita Ram, regional director, OMS says, "Between Mondays and Thursdays, STAR Plus is way ahead of other channels. So, it's difficult to take away the loyal viewer from her regular soaps. At the same time, the weekend slot is weak for all channels. So, if ZEE TV telecasts the same movies on weekends, the viewership ought to go up."
Does this mean that a mere tinkering with the programme schedule will get ZEE TV high TVRs for Thursday premiere?
Not quite, explains senior industry observers.
This is because a massive 65 per cent of the viewership was dependent on the movie title; the balance 35 per cent has to do with other factors such as the time slot or the channel which hosts the movie.
L S Krishnan, general manager, MAXUS India, says, "The viewership of the movies depends on the titles. If the movie is a mega hit in theatres, the viewership would certainly be high, as it happened in Gangaajal and Raaz."
Concurs Gita Ram of OMS. "If the movie is a blockbuster in the real sense -- such as Koi Mil Gaya, it would have a high viewership irrespective of the time and slot it is being telecast," she says.
Even Ashish Dabral, marketing head, ZEE TV, agrees. "The title of a movie is extremely vital. So, when we show Munnabhai MBBS on the Thursday Premiere, it's guaranteed to be a hit. The movie will work even if ZEE decides to show it on a Monday or a Saturday."
The other factor that plays an important role is the channel on which the movie is being telecast. This probably explains why even flop movies become hits on STAR Plus. For example, while STAR's Dil Ka Rishta got a TVR of 2.68, ZEE's Mujhse Dosti Karoge managed a TVR of only 0.59.
Krishnan of Maxus India explains, "STAR Plus - with a bigger catchment area and a loyal viewership for its popular serials - gets a better viewership when a movie is being telecast, even if the title is weak."
If movie titles play such an important role in popularity stakes, what stops channels like ZEE to get the big ones?
ZEE's Dabral says, "We would ideally like to show the biggest titles to our viewers, but we are unable to do so. We show premieres on every Thursdays, whereas other channels do it less regularly. It is not possible to buy blockbusters for every week".
Industry sources say, acquiring a hit movie property requires hefty investments and at times, it is also difficult to recover the amount. Apparently, in the case of Gadar- Ek Prem Katha, the breakeven amount for ZEE was as high as Rs 30 lakh. The fact that the movie was a ZEE group production must have been quite a relief.
So, will ZEE change its Premiere strategy? Watch this space. © 2004 agencyfaqs!