Theres no business like showbiz

Written by Rupsa Ray | Sagorika Dasgupta | Shaheen Mansuri | Updated: Dec 25 2007, 06:09am hrs
It was clearly the year of entertainment. For the film industry, 2007 will be remembered as the year when Bollywood began to enjoy the benefits of corporatisation. With funds not an issue anymore, the year saw film budgets getting bigger, marketing sassier and distribution, truly global. To give an instance of how much importance producers were now willing to give to marketing, the first promos of Farah Khans Om Shanti Om (OSO) and Sanjay Leela Bhansalis Saawariya began doing the rounds from August, for films that were slated for a November release.

They were hyped to be the top grossers of 2007 and the producers pulled out all stops to ensure that people sat up and took notice of both the films. Another matter that low-key films like Chak De! India and Jab We Met stole the box-office show. In television too, viewers were spoilt for choicefrom reality to news-related shows, soaps to moviesa number of new channels debuted with new programming. In radio, FM channels mushroomed, taking the radio boom to Tier-II and Tier-III cities. With 2008 slated to be even bigger and better for entertainment, we look at some of the trends doing the rounds.

Films: marketing is centrestage

In the Hindi film industry, the phrase content is king seems to be getting replaced by a new rhetoric, marketing is the queen, going by the huge budgets film-makers allocated for marketing films in 2007. In fact, trade analysts say this is going to be an era of marketing. For instance, the trend of bloated marketing allocation will continue with big budget films to be released in January 2008 like Ashutosh Gowarikars Jodhaa Akbar or Goldie Behls Drona in June.

The year also saw filmmakers tying up with brands, apart from the traditional print and televising advertising. Says trade analyst Vinod Mirani: The Himesh Reshammiya-starrer Aap Ka Suroor did wonders at the box-office because of the huge marketing drive ahead of the release. Although the film did not have brand tie-ups, the marketing budget was nearly 10% of the film budget.

However, with films like Khans OSO and Bhansalis Saawariya came the trend of brand tie-ups. Both the films spent nearly Rs 5-Rs 6 crore on marketing the film through brand associations among other marketing gimmicks. Says Sooraj Bhalla, director, creative and content of entertainment marketing agency MATES (acronym for Madison Teamworks Entertainment Services): We had brand tie-ups with Shoppers Stop, Maybelline and SIA which launched the OSO line of clothes, make-up and jewellery respectively. We also tied up with Nokia.

Giving a perspective on the trends in Bollywood in 2008, Navin Shah, CEO, P9 Integrated, a film marketing company from Percept Holdings, says not only marketing budgets but overseas realisations will also rise. Markets like Australia and Germany, for instance, did not have any market, but the trend has changed. Over 400 prints of OSO were distributed in these markets, which is quite an achievement.

Shah, who marketed Saawariya, says though the film did not fare well at the box-office, it was a profitable project due to the money it spent on marketing and the realisations from such ventures. Saawariya had tie-ups with Sony Ericsson, Neo Sports and Pantaloons.

Income from these tie-ups was over Rs 12 crore. Shah adds that the branded entertainment category, which is pegged at Rs 200 crore currently, is likely to grow at 200% in the ensuing year.

TV: flurry of channels

With many new channels debuting, TV programming went creative and innovative in 2007. With a slew of general entertainment channels (GECs) like NDTV Imagine, NDTV Good Times, 9X and 9XM (from the INX media stable), Zee Next, Bindass and Bindass Movies (UTV) launched this year, the need to grab eyeballs was crucial.

According to a PWC FICCI report in 2007, the current size of the television industry is estimated at Rs 19,100 crore and is projected to grow by 22% to Rs 51,900 crore by 2011. With rapid advancements in technology and digitisation, industry sources feel that there is room for more growth. This year was marked by the launch of numerous GECs and a substantial hike in advertising revenues as well as advertisement expenditure. There are a host of new channels and to get noticed among the clutter, there will be a trend of international concepts in the coming year, says Yash Khanna, senior vice-president, corporate communications, Star India Pvt Ltd.

With movie content, not just across movie channels but GECs estimated at an all-time high of 35% compared to the last two years, this year was all about a symbiosis between Bollywood and the small screen. This practice is nothing new for television but it emerged as an institutionalised business model this year. It was a co-existence where a film, somewhere around its release, would latch on to a TV show for the purpose of promotion and marketing. Says Farokh Balsara, national sector leader, media and entertainment practice, Ernst & Young:

This year, the very concept of GEC was blurred and even behind the faade of news channels the focus was less on politics and economics and more on Bollywood and the T20 World Cup event. With the advent of CAS and the launch of DTH, more channels were launched, giving consumers plenty to choose from. Ad spends on TV were between 43%-45%. However, it was less than that on print, around 48%.

In the coming year, Balsara predicts that the migration towards digital platform will increase with the biggest growth in the DTH sector, with around 28%-38% of the 100 million pay TV households going digital by 2010. Television channels will also see a mix of ad and subscription revenues at 80% and 20% respectively with the share of subscription revenues gradually rising. Also, due to CAS and pay channels, larger networks like Zee, Sony and Star will be dishing out more regional and niche channels related to lifestyle and travel to reach a larger audience.

The year 2007 has witnessed huge foreign investment into the country and Indrani Mukherjea, chief executive officer and founder INX media, points out that with a long-term spotlight on India, a majority of global television networks are looking at India-focused programming.

Radio: creating waves

Music is in the air, literally, with all the popular FM channels expanding in a major way. The Indian radio industry, which is valued at about Rs 500 crore, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 28 % to Rs 1,700 crore by 2011. With the Indian government approving them with more licences in Phase II, these FM stations expanded in a major way in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. With all the major players expanding throughout the country as well as new players coming in, competition has become rife. We saw a major expansion, where all the major players were expanding in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. This year, we saw the radio market grow almost 25%-30%. This also means more and more competition for all the channels and in a way, its very good since everyone comes up with innovative ideas and experiments with content in order to attract the listeners, says Rana Barua, national head, marketing, Radio City 91.1 FM.