The business of films is the business of life. Or so television broadcasters would have you believe, as they stack up on fresh-off-the-oven Bollywood and Hollywood films, irrespective of the bleak economy or the dampening advertiser sentiment. As swashbuckling, testosterone filled heroes serenade waif-like women and there’s a raffish villain thrown in at the side, the stakes are high on each and every one of these films and with every beam, channels jostle for leadership position. The television screening of a big film means a spike of almost 30-40 gross rating points (GRP) during the week when the movie airs. That’s usually enough to help a channel move up one spot in the viewership listings. This is why the channels pay a king’s ransom for these films and frequently bid and counter-bid each other to the goal post.
Earlier this year, the $1.05-billion estimated Star network in India trailblazed the broadcast sector with a R500 crore estimated deal with actor Salman Khan for his films till 2017. Once the dust settled on that one, it was quick to sign a similar deal with actor Ajay Devgan for an estimated R400 crore. Star now has access to Salman Khan films such as Kick produced by Sajid Nadiadwala, Sohail Khan’s Radhe and No Entry Mein Entry produced by Boney Kapoor. The Devgan list includes a bevy of action-packed new releases such as Prakash Jha’s Satyagraha and Sajid Khan’s Himmatwala. The network has also bagged Bhaag Milka Bhaag for R20-25 crore for an undisclosed period, said media buyers.
Some of these deals are payable over time and the channel doesn’t have to pay the money upfront. And if Star is leading the way, the rest of the pack isn’t far behind. Shah Rukh Khan’s traumatic love story with the daughter of a mob boss, titled Chennai Express, has been lapped up by the Zee network for R40 crore. This involves multiple runs across a time frame of seven years. Zee has also bagged the rights for the Ranbir Kapoor starrer Besharam and the Sanjay Dutt starrer Zanjeer. Multi Screen Media (MSM) which runs Sony