At TV.NXT 2012, a panel of experts representing broadcasters, marketers and media agencies discussed the ways and means to better monetise movies on television.
A platform to exchange ideas and perspectives around the television media industry, TV.NXT is a popular annual event organised by afaqs!. In the third edition of the event, presented by ABP News in Mumbai, the industry fraternity assembled in healthy numbers to discuss and learn about pertinent issues on Day One of the two-day event.
It is well known how satellite rights are sold for films well before release. When blockbuster movies are screened on television, are they monetised to the truest potential?
The panel comprised of Ajay Trigunayat, chief executive officer, English entertainment channels, Times Television Network; Sunder Aaron, former business head, Sony Pix; Sameer Rao, chief executive officer, Vinod Chopra Productions; Satyajit Sen, CEO, ZenithOptimedia; and Ashish Patil, business and creative head and vice-president, youth films, brand partnerships and talent management, Yash Raj Films. The discussion was anchored by Shailesh Kapoor, CEO, Ormax Media.
Rao noted that while it is a constantly changing portfolio, the marketplace at the end of the day is a function of demand and supply forces.
When counter questioned if it is fair to see the scenario as an open market, Trigunayat said that broadcasters do not have too many options at their disposal.
Noting that in another decade's time, prices will go up even higher, he remarked that an effective way to generate revenue and tackle the situation is the old strategy of increasing inventory.
Aaron, while tackling Kapoor's query on whether movies on television are a commoditised category, spoke about the reach of English movies versus English general entertainment channels. "In the English movie category, the reach is five times more than English GECs. It is exactly the opposite in the case of Hindi," he said.
Agreeing that revenues have to move up from the current levels, he pointed out that while prices shall always rise, the pie has to also increase.
The much-discussed issue of digitisation also came up a few times in the conversation. Kapoor asked the panel if digitisation will benefit movie channels. Trigunayat replied that it will and added that although many look at English movie channels as niche ones, he does not belong to the same school of thought. "Digitisation will benefit English movie channels. With digitisation, audio and video will come to parity. Movies are always produced with the best quality of audio and video available. Hence, on television, they will be best enjoyed with digitisation," he said.
Subsequently, the discussion led to how, before a film's release, movie stars often appear on television shows. Kapoor said that in most cases, there is little change in the show's ratings and yet channels are not asking production houses for money for what clearly is a product placement.
Patil said for big ticket films, such strategies clearly bring in the eyeballs. It is the value that a broadcaster sees in getting a star for a special show, for which movie stars are paid. He added that in India, barring a few examples, movies feed television, unlike in the West, where there are instances of the other way around.
Kapoor then noted how advertising in India continues to be in awe of film stars. Taking up the point, Sen said that while the point is a valid one, there is also a consumer sentiment that is generated with the same, particularly with the rise of digital media.
"If Salman Khan on television says, 'Break toh banta hai' (for Kit Kat), it makes a difference. You cannot take away star power, especially in a country with the kind of reach television has. It will always be a part of the equation," said Sen.
On how satellite rights provide a shorter window for films and risk harming its performance potential at movie theatres, Rao said that there are always brands associated with movies and channels look at them for sponsors while broadcasting the same. At the same time, it is also difficult for a producer to decide how well a movie would fare at the box office. Hence, a lot depends on the negotiations, he said.
Patil added that satellite rights "bullet proof" movies. He said that it is always the perception that the bigger the hit, the more viewers of the movie on television and producers do take note of that fact while discussing satellite rights. According to Patil, more than box office, shorter windows through broadcasting rights tend to affect home video.
The panel also noted how the television industry has not been able to sell its 'stars' well. "We talk about GEC stars. Tell me one memorable dialogue from a show you can remember. However, when it comes to movies, we can recall many. GECs are not stars," said Trigunayat.
He said that repeat viewing is more when it comes to movies and not so much with television shows except for a few examples that have not been well monetised.
Trigunayat said that buying slots on television is often perception-led and not planning-dominated. He explained that the slots perceived as 'dead hour' may not necessarily be so. He also noted how, while the 9 pm slot is the highest paid one, it is at 11 pm on Sunday nights that people are observed to be watching movies, despite the perception that viewers do not do so as they have to head to work the next morning. The way people consume and the way media is bought are very different, said Trigunayat.
Towards the end of the discussion, the panel also agreed that box office success does not guarantee high viewership on television. Saying there is a difference between theatrical viewing and television viewing of movies, Triguanayat pointed out the example of a Hindi movie - Jaani Dushman - that failed miserably at the box office but continues to have a steady following on television.
This was the third edition of TV.NXT, an afaqs! event presented by ABP News.