Despite the lull in TV ad spends on Hindi GECs and Hindi news, the Hindi movie genre has been witnessing growth.
Even as the TV industry is reeling from the macro-level aftermath of demonetisation and GST, the Hindi movie channel space has thrown up a surprise. While ad spends have plummeted across television in FY18 compared to the previous fiscal — by 9.5% in the Hindi GEC genre and 4.2% in the Hindi news genre — the Hindi movie genre has managed to register an increase of 24.5% according to a recent KPMG report.
Hindi GECs command the lion’s share of ad spends (27.7%), followed by the Hindi news genre (7.9%) and the Hindi movie genre (6.3%). “If we look at the data from the previous years, there are fluctuations across all genres. The only one that has held steady is the Hindi movie genre,” says Neeraj Vyas, business head, Sony SAB, Hindi movies and music cluster.
Appointment viewership has always evaded Hindi movie channels. “Hindi movie channels are neither about on-demand nor appointment viewing. You go through movie channels and if there is something interesting, you watch it,” says Girish Menon, partner and head, media and entertainment, KPMG. “This is why the big movie premieres happen on GECs and the second runs happen on movie channels.”
The four major broadcast networks — Star India, Zee, Sony and Viacom18 — operate multiple channels in the Hindi speaking markets (HSM). Vyas believes that the Hindi movie genre, over a period of time, has managed to establish itself as the “backbone” of the Hindi entertainment space. Not just Hindi movies, but dubbed versions of South Indian movies too are gaining fandom in HSM. “The prolific South Indian film industry has infused a lot of freshness in the genre. Some South Indian titles get 1-plus ratings every time they are aired on TV and that is not something we can say for a lot of Hindi movies. Hindi films have failed to sustain, which is a big worry for us,” he says.
Given that the Hindi movie genre appeals primarily to male audiences, it attracts specific categories of advertisers. “Hindi movie channels form a substantial part of the media spends for automobiles, telecom, mobile handsets, e-commerce, consumer durables and such companies, which are big spenders in the media ecosystem,” says Premjeet Sodhi, SVP, Mindshare Fulcrum, South Asia. The genre also adds to incremental reach for male audiences (beyond the regular sports and news channels), and is often used as a reach and frequency builder in media plans, he adds.
A question of money
As per industry estimates, the size of the Hindi movie genre is pegged at Rs 1,800 crore with more than 25 (pay + FTA) channels in this space. A 10-second slot during a big movie premiere such as Baahubali could go up to Rs 10 lakh, while for a low-key movie it could drop to Rs 1 lakh.
“This is a genre where the content has a lot of repeat value,” says Ashish Sehgal, COO, Zee Unimedia. “When it comes to the overall viewership share, the Hindi movie genre is only second to Hindi GECs; however, the level of monetisation still does not correspond to the ratings it generates and that is a big challenge.”
Clearly, Hindi movie channels often struggle to command larger spends. Sehgal believes this could be a perception problem. “Planners and buyers have always used the Hindi movie genre for frequency,” he says. But because the time spent on Hindi GECs is more, advertisers tend to gravitate towards that genre, even though the reach of movie channels is comparatively higher. “We are trying to correct that but there is a lot of resistance in the market, because advertisers are used to buying slots cheap,” he adds.
Then there is also the theory about the mushrooming of OTT platforms eating into the share of the Hindi movie genre on TV. With more than 30 streaming platforms, is the threat real? “Not in the next three years at least,” says Menon. “That is because India is a single-TV household market. The primary members of the family and the older generation decide what to watch on TV, and it is the youngsters who are watching content on OTT platforms.” Furthermore, over the next few years, OTT viewership in India is likely to be different from TV viewership, he sums up.