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Movie channels expect more eyeballs as lockdown returns

Television film channels are expected to see a viewership jump of 10-20% as more people stay at home during the second wave of covid infections coupled with the fact that a fresh slate of movies is also available, said two media industry executives.

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“The movie genre would continue to grow in reach and viewership in 2021. As people get used to the new normal with work from home and social distancing, their TV viewing patterns are bound to evolve,” said Ruchir Tiwari, cluster head, Hindi movie channels, ZEE. The broadcaster has acquired more than 40 big-ticket titles with premieres planned in the coming months including Coolie No. 1, Master, Krack, Sooryavanshi, Radhe, Saina and Thalaivi.

“Due to the current situation, TV audiences haven’t had a chance to watch these films in theatres. It is a grand affair for television viewers,” said Tiwari. He feels that in 2021-22, co-viewing and non-prime time (NPT) viewership will push movie consumption ahead of what was recorded in 2020.

Small-town, mass-market audiences are more likely to switch to films on TV rather than take to content on streaming platforms, said a broadcasting industry executive declining to be named. He cited the example of Laxmii that notched up big numbers for its satellite TV premiere on Star Gold recently.

The Akshay Kumar-starrer had premiered last month, notching up over 2 crore impressions, according to trade website Box Office India. Impressions refer to the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes.

Movie channels contributed 24% of total television viewership and were the most viewed genre after general entertainment in 2020, according to a recent Ficci EY report.

Manish Shah, director, Goldmine Telefilms that owns Dhinchaak, a TV channel for Hindi films, said a clutch of Tamil and Telugu language offerings across genres such as comedy, action and horror comedy dubbed in Hindi will also make for decent fare for family audiences. Dhinchaak, that specializes in dubbed southern films, has enough of a pipeline to last until October, Shah added.

“From a broadcast standpoint, the Hindi movie genre is expected to see growth in both pay and FTA (free-to-air) universe,” said Nina Elavia Jaipuria, head – Hindi mass entertainment and kids TV network, Viacom18 that launched a new Hindi movie channel, Colors Cineplex Bollywood earlier this month in addition to its existing channels, Colors Cineplex and Rishtey Cineplex.

Jaipuria said that from an industry standpoint, theatrical release of movies has an advantage for TV channels as the movie is already marketed and is known to the wider audience which is somewhat missing for movies releasing directly on streaming platforms.

In the current scenario, escapism in various forms – be it comedy or romance and star power are aspects that make films a satellite hit, irrespective of whether it’s a theatrical or a streaming platform release, she said.

“With the release of most big budget films being pushed, audiences were craving for family entertainers with a big star cast. Hence, films that catered to this demand gap performed well on TV,” Jaipuria said adding that the network will be premiering Kannada film Pogaru and Rajkummar Rao-starrer Chhalaang that went to Amazon Prime Video. Live Mint

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