News Column

More to the picture [Financial Express (India)]

August 20, 2013


The Rs 1200-crore Hindi movie genre on television will witness the entry of another player this month with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) launching its second Hindi movie channel euphemistically called ' & pictures'. Come August 18, ZEEL will launch & pictures, a Hindi movie channel that will intend to cater to audiences which it defines as "young at heart, ambitious and rooted". The new channel will target this audience set with around 300 movies at its nucleus. Of these, most will be movies produced after year 2000 while a few, which fits into the channel philosophy, could be older films, the mainstay of Zee's 1200-1500 movie library. The Zee Group already has four Hindi movie channels - Zee Cinema, Zee Classic, Zee Action, Zee Premiere. Meanwhile, ZEEL has also acquired the satellite rights to around 10 ten latest and upcoming movie titles including Chennai Express, Zanjeer and Besharam which quite evidently help in improving the channel sampling.

" & pictures marks a defining moment for us with the launch of a movie channel for people who are young at heart. A new movie channel allows us to build upon our existing film and digital resources to create a continuing conversation with an audience that is interested in staying connected and engaged with the world around them," said Bharat Ranga, chief content and creative officer, ZEEL.

The '&' story just does not end here. Plans are that if this latest product from the Zee stable-that chooses to stay away from prefixing its name with the parent brand (read Zee)-is successful in establishing its name in the market, a slew of other channels may follow under the '&' umbrella, somewhat similar to Star's 'OK' strategy.

But unlike a Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) where content plays the role of a key differentiator, for a movie channel the content used is assumed to be 'common' for all; consequently, differentiation becomes the biggest dispute. And this, when branding and marketing walks in to play the big daddy in all. Therefore, ZEEL is working on a robust marketing plan to build the brand in a phase-wise manner. For instance, as the grapevine talked about a new movie channel that was coming to town, ZEEL decided to send out fortune cookies to publications with a little note inside that said, "& - coming soon". It was a time when the name of the channel-owner had remained unknown to all.

Now, as the channel gets ready to launch, & pictures has decided to create what it calls India's first crowd-sourced film in just a week. From August 5 onwards, the channel began inviting entries for online users to name the film that they will co-create on the channel's micro-site, &; On August 7-8, users shared their story-lines and dialogues for the film via Twitter and Facebook. The best ideas will then be aggregated onto the micro-site where users can log in and view how the story is progressing while watching the entries being sent in real time. A marketing strategy to capture the attention of the growing digital users in India, the initiative looks at integrating Facebook, Twitter and YouTube seamlessly.

The channel has also roped in Scarecrow Communications as its creative agency which has worked on the strategic process for & pictures, giving the channel its name and logo. ZEEL will launch a fresh television commercial a week after & pictures hits the screen apart from announcing an innovative tie-up with Twitter.

Says Akash Chawla, marketing head (national channels), ZEEL, said, "The main differentiator for & pictures will be the innovative mediums of interactivity initiated to engage with audiences. The core of brand & pictures stems from the fact that today, viewers are not watching TV as the sole activity that they do. TV viewing is accompanied with time spent on mobiles, chatting on various social media platforms, etc."

So, is & pictures good news? Apparently, yes. According to Navin Khemka, managing partner at Zenith Optimedia, with the 10+2 ad cap becoming effective from October, salable inventory on channels will reduce. To counter that reduction in inventory, channels will try to increase it by launching new channels. "And since there is a demand, it is good news at least for the advertisers if the new channels belong to strong networks," he says.

Avinash Pillai, managing partner, Mediacom agrees. "With the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) ruling in place and the demand for GRPs (gross rating points) continuing to grow, only two things can happen. Either broadcasters will demand whatever prices they want for their ad slots to sustain their revenues or the ecosystem will have to become larger with more channels if one is to restrict and control the pricing," he says.

For the record, it takes much less investments to launch a movie channel when compared to a GEC. According to market estimates, the initial investment that goes into launching a movie channel oscillates around the R100-crore mark. Meanwhile, the ad rate for a 10-second spot on the channel ranges between Rs 500-2000 while that of prime-time slots is around Rs 3000-8000.

& pictures has brought on board exclusive channel partners to collaborate with the channel in its launch. Some of the partners who have been brought on board for & pictures are Procter and Gamble (for Oral-B and Pantene), Vini Cosmetics and Hindustan Unilever Ltd (for Axe). These value partners have a special partner status across all communication mediums of & pictures, be it on-air or off-air communication. During the first 45 days of the launch of & pictures, all of the inventory on the channel will be shared between these value partners.

Copyright 2013 The Indian Express Online Media Pvt. Ltd., distributed by

Credit: Anindita Sarkar

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