Star India treats English movie buffs to new premiere channel

By: | Published: July 8, 2015 12:37 AM

After launching high definition (HD) feed for its flagship channel Star Movies and action movies channel Star Movies Action, Star India is all set to launch a new HD channel, Star Movies Select HD.

There’s some good news for English movie buffs. After launching high definition (HD) feed for its flagship channel Star Movies and action movies channel Star Movies Action, Star India is all set to launch a new HD channel, Star Movies Select HD. The channel is slated to go live on July 9 and will be available across four main direct-to-home platforms, including Tata Sky, Airtel, Dish TV and Videocon.

Speaking to FE, Kevin Vaz, general manager, English cluster, said: “While Star Movies and Star Movies Action is meant for younger audiences, the new channel aims at catching the attention of the mature discerning audience. In addition to popular Oscar winning movies, the channel will showcase movies like Calvary which, despite being a critically acclaimed, did not get released in India.”

Positioned as ‘Star Movies Select – 365 days 365 stories’, the new channel will show a new movie everyday at 9 pm apart from airing two premieres a month. In total, the channel will showcase 30 premieres in a year, including movies such as Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Gone Girl, Whiplash, etc.

The new channel will compete against other English HD channels including HBO’s ad free channels – Hits and Defined apart from Times Network’s relaunched channel MN+. Asked if Star India is a little late in entering the arena, Vaz said the channel’s offering sets it apart.

“In case of both broadcasters the amount of original content shown on the channels is limited. While MN+ is a HD feed of Movies Now and showcases movies from both Movies Now and Romedy Now, HBO’s channels are popular because of series like Game of Thrones. But Star Movies Select HD, will air content that will be exclusive to the channel,” explains Vaz.

For the record, Star India has first output movie syndication deals with Fox Studios, NBC Universal and Disney. Under this agreement, any movie released by the three studios will get aired on Star India’s English movie channels.

However, unlike its competitors such as HBO which runs ad free channels, Star India plans to rope in premium brands to advertise on the new channel. In fact the broadcaster claims to already have got brands such as Ballantyn, Jockey, BMW, Flipkart, Yamaha and Bluestone as sponsors. “While brands such as Ballantyn have come as channel partner for the few initial months, brand like Jockey have joined hands for a year,” adds Vaz.

However, media planners point out that despite being premium channels, advertising rates still remain low compared to a Hindi general entertainment channel. For instance, while the cost of a ten second ad spot on an English movie channel ranges from Rs 3,000-4,000 during prime time, the cost of a 10 second spot on a Hindi GEC at prime time ranges from Rs 80,000 to 1 lakh. “In case of such channels the focus is not on creating a sound revenue model, rather it is on creating a loyal consumer base so that they can help in boosting the subscription revenue in the future,” says Rajni Menon, vice-president, Carat India, a media planning and buying agency from Dentsu Aegis Network.

Analysts too call the move a precursor to digitisation as phase 3 of cable TV digitisation is expected to get completed by December 2015. “Subscription revenue is finally picking up thanks to digitisation, so as a broadcaster if you intend to get more people hooked on to TV one needs to have new offerings. For example Zee launched Zindagi in Hindi just to drive subscription as it knows it would be able to push its flagship channel Zee because it’s known for daily soaps and is a mass product,” said Timmy Kandhari, MD, Sapphire Professional Services and former executive director of PwC India.

The new channel, which will not be sold on al-a-carte basis, will be available to viewers as part of the HD bouquet.

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