Raushni Bhagia

&pictures to take off on August 18

Out of the total investment, about 50 per cent is being spent on content acquisition, 20 per cent on distribution and about 30 per cent on marketing.

Zee's pay Hindi movie channel, &pictures, will be finally launched on August, 18. To differentiate the positioning, the network has deliberately not used the company name, 'ZEE', in the name of the new channel, which will be launched with the tagline, 'Sapnon Ki Udaan'.

The new brand '&' will cater to the newer mindsets emerging in the Indian society. The essence of the brand is a combination of wanting to grow high and remaining rooted. The network plans to launch a series of channels with the same brand name. Explaining why movie channels was the first choice, Bharat Kumar Ranga, chief content and creative officer, Zee mentions that a Hindi movie channel can be launched with lower investment as compared to a Hindi GEC.

&pictures to take off on August 18
&pictures will talk to the audiences who love movies that capture the younger mindsets, though there will be a minor mix of audience, agrees the network. "These mindsets are not restricted to geographical boundaries. A single household can have people with different mindsets and one of these can be the one that we want to cater to," adds Ranga.

He further explains that movie viewing is changing, as movie tastes are changing. He adds, "Down the line even television is evolving that way, so we want to tap it. There will be a lot of disruptive strategies for the content on day to day basis. So when you have to adapt to an evolving, changing mindset, movie is a very good indicator on a social fabric of how times are changing, how mindsets are changing, how people are changing, their habits, opinion and attitude. So, it was a very enticing task for us."

With plans to buy out large libraries in the next few years, the channel will be in high investment mode for about two to three years. Currently, the channel has bought about eight-nine big ticket films for the current year, along with the older library of about 300 movies being exclusively diverted to &pictures. As reported earlier, the new movies that are acquired include Chennai Express, Zanjeer, Besharam, Ghanchakkar, Aakashvani, Krishna and Kans, Commando and Aatma. Out of the total movies telecast on the channel, about 50 per cent will be exclusive to the channel's library.

It may be noted that the content in this genre has a very high repeat value. Ranga adds, "All the Hindi movie channels put together, there will be a library of about 11,000 movies, but only 600-700 of these are telecast in rotation."

Though there are many movie channels in the genre, Ranga says that there is still scope for more. Out of the 9-10 channels present today, about six are doing well, while barely two-three have a definite positioning and brand-connect, he suggests.

The Hindi movie genre has an ad revenue pie of Rs 1000-1200 crore. Ranga is quite positive that the subscription revenues will shoot up after December, 2014. With all this, sources suggest that the channel is expected to break even in five years.

Speaking about the symbol '&' and the logo, Ranga adds, "The ampersand sign in '&pictures' signifies 'Udaan' (flight) & 'Neev' (rooted) and celebrates the duality of contemporary Indians. The ampersand in the logo merges seamlessly with the 'p' of pictures and connotes the ease with which today's viewer blends his ambition to soar high while remaining rooted to his sacrosanct values. The colour red similarly radiates his bold ambition as well as the richness of his traditions."

The research that went behind the launch of the 'interactive' Hindi movie channel shows that Indians are largely experimental, ambitious and yet rooted. Before launching any multi-media marketing campaign, the channel has launched an interactive campaign on its micro site on August, 5. The campaign asks people to send in a movie script, along with dialogues. These crowd-sourced scripts will then be aggregated and a movie will be produced by the channel in flat 48 hours. It has already received more than 850 entries (by the evening of August, 6).

People use multiple platforms at the same time and the endeavour of the campaign is to ensure presence on multiple platforms in the most meaningful campaign. Within a week, the channel hopes to get the movie online. "So, by next Monday, the first crowd-sourced film will have taken shape and should be put up on YouTube very soon," explains Akash Chawla, EVP, marketing, national channels, ZEEL.

The network is all set to launch a new product in the next one month, which will be a step forward in terms of interactivity. As Chawla states, "Be it a metro or a small town, everyone wants to meet a film star or send him a message. Even if we are able to do this much, I think we have created a bond." The channel, as of now, has a robust plan to maintain consistent interactions with the audience on the digital platform. Level 2 of the channel interactivity is to monetise online.

&pictures will have the advantage of being a part of ZEEL, in terms of distribution and ad-sales packaging. Out of the total investment, about 50 per cent is being spent on content acquisition, 20 per cent on distribution and 30 per cent on marketing.

"Mujhse Shaadi Karoge had a contest 'Propose to Priyanka'. The experience of all such interactive campaigns or contests that we have pioneered over the last two decades will be used to make &pictures interesting. These include newer format programming during breaks or on the digital platform," says Ruchir Tiwari, cluster programming head (Hindi movie channels), ZEEL.

Speaking on the new brand &, Ranga explains that one is impactful only if the initiative is right. Referring to the cookies that arrived at the media companies to announce the launch of &pictures, he says, "It was not a very big cost, but we were looking for things which would create buzz and leave an impact."

The company will launch a brand film about two weeks after the launch of the channel.

For the record, with Zee Cinema, Zee Cinema HD, Zee Premiere, Zee Classic and Zee Action already in its kitty, '&pictures' is the network's sixth Hindi movie channel.

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