Archive for April, 2009

Zee Telugu bets on mega movies

April 21, 2009
Zee Telugu is giving its filmed entertainment content the first big push. The channel, which achieved a break-even status in the second quarter of this fiscal, has lapped up 24 big movies for an undisclosed amount.

In a TV viewing market which is high on movies, Zee’s aggressive move is directed at spiking up ratings. A steep rise in film acquisition costs has not justified advertising revenues and even Sun Network’s Gemini, which leads the pack of Telugu GECs, has kept away from such bids.

“This is the first time we have invested into a bulk of movies. We have taken perpetual rights (all rights for 99 years) for almost the whole lot. And for the few others, we have acquired 12-25 years unlimited telecast rights. It will help boost our reach and ratings,” says Zee Telugu CEO Sanjay Reddy.

The roster includes Kotha Bangaru Lokam, Paandurangadu, Vinayakudu, Krishna, Ashta Chamma, Gorintaku, Bhadradri, Ready, Krishnarjuna, Nenu Meeku Thelusa, Okka Magadu, Bujji Gadu, Ontari, Navavasantham, Sasirekha Parinayam, Swagatham, Bhale Dongalu, Victory, Kantri, Surya S/o Krishnan, Sidhu from Sikakulam, Tulasi, Avakai Biryani and Maisamma IPS.

Zee Telugu , which has seen an upsurge in ratings with mainly its non-fiction programming such as Saregamapa, was weak on movie content as compared to its competiting networks.

The price for the satellite TV rights of a Telugu blockbuster movie is as high as Rs 40 million, making revenue realisation on such content really tough. Zee amortises the movie cost over a period of five years.

“In this market where costs have gone up, movies are not acquired with the pure RoI (return on investment) motive. We use them for tactical reasons and for driving audiences into our fiction and non-fiction properties,” admits Reddy.

Zee Marathi gears up to launch 6th season of Saregamapa

April 21, 2009
Zee Marathi is ready to launch the sixth season of Saregamapa within three years of the inception of the popular music reality show on the channel.

Following the success of the recently concluded Saregamapa Li’l Champs, the channel will launch the next season Saregamapa – Maharashtra Cha Aajcha Awaaz on 30 March.

The show will have 10 established Marathi singers – five males and five females – as contestants. Noted music composer Pt Hridaynath Mangeshkar and Suresh Wadkar will be donning the judge’s hat this time.

Hosted yet again by Pallavi Joshi, the show will be back at the Monday-Tuesday 9.30 pm slot.

The channel has chalked out a four-week marketing plan for the upcoming season. It will have a mix of ATL (above-the-line) and BTL (below-the-line) activities. The teasers have already started while more creative contestants and judges interviews will be carried out in later weeks.

Zee Marathi business head Nikhil Sane said, “We have planned a four-week campaign for this season, which will be spread across Maharashtra. We will touch 32 towns in the state; we intend to reach to every single Marathi household with this property.”

Apart from spots on network channels (Zee Marathi, Zee Talkies), there will be more then 100 hoardings across Maharashtra. The channel is investing heavily on the radio as well. “We have booked spots on all the private FM channels in the state. Right now we are carrying out plain advertisements. But in the coming weeks, radio channels will air the contestant’s and judge’s interviews as well,” added Sane.

Interestingly, in print, the channel will be promoting the show mainly in the smaller newspapers, to reach to the masses. From the third week, the channel will organise on-ground activities in tier-3 and tier-4 cities. They will also distribute merchandise during the events.

Idea has once again joined Saregamapa as title sponsor. It is also the telecom sponsor for the show. Meanwhile, Parle Agro and Lion Kashmir Honey have joined as associate sponsors.

While announcing the launch, Sane said, “There is no place for fake drama and controversy in this show. Which is why it has clicked among Marathi audiences.”

The grand finale of the fifth season of Saregamapa Li’l Champs received a TVR of 13.3 in all Maharashtra (C&S, 4+) and a reach of 27 per cent (8.46 million people), as per Tam data. Also the average time spent by the viewer was 130 minutes for the show.

The channel has decided to come out with an audio CD of 10 original compositions sung by these contestants as this season’s souvenir. Zee Marathi has already published individual CDs of five finalists of last season under the name of “Panchratna”.

Raj TV Q4 net loss at Rs 30.76 million

April 21, 2009
Chennai-based Raj Television Network (RTN) has posted a net loss of Rs 30.76 million for the quarter ended 31 March 2009, as against a net loss of Rs 3.42 million a year ago.

During the period, the company has recorded a 84.45 per cent growth in revenue to Rs 204.05 million (from Rs 110.625 million).

The income from operations and net sales stood at Rs 194.94 million, as compared to Rs 86.44 million in the prior year.

On the expenditure front, there was a steep rise of 102.81 per cent to Rs 229.93 million in the fourth quarter (from Rs 113.37 million). The operational cost of the network has doubled in the quarter at Rs 83.30 million (from Rs 37.71 million) in the corresponding quarter. Meanwhile, other expenditure also surged to Rs 127.28 million (from Rs 61.52 million).

The company launched a Kannada music channel Raj Musix Kannada on 6 March. It is also acquiring content for upcoming Kannada GEC, while a Kannada news channel is also in pipeline.

BBC Parliament channel gets a fresh look

April 21, 2009

BBC has announced that its channel BBC Parliament will have a new look from today with refreshed graphics and channel idents.

The channel audience has doubled since BBC Parliament became available on Freeview in 2006 and it now reaches 1.4 million viewers a month – 480,000 a week.

Channel Controller Peter Knowles said, “I’m sure our growing audience will enjoy our new look and continue to explore the wide range of political coverage and programming on the channel. Our round-the-clock broadcasting of Parliament, by digital terrestrial, cable, satellite and the web is vital to ensure that we have an informed democracy.”

The channel features proceedings from Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. As well as unedited coverage of the Commons and Lords, it also shows the most important committee hearings.

BBC Parliament also makes a range of original programmes. The Record reviews the day’s parliamentary work. Record Europe covers the European Parliament. Booktalk brings a weekly round-up of the latest political writing and interviews with leading authors.

BBC Parliament also screens themed evenings including the recent Night The Government Fell which received excellent reviews.

BBC Parliament was launched in 1998 and had its last ‘refresh’ seven years ago.

NDTV Group launches RedDot Productions

April 21, 2009

Backward integration is the new business for the NDTV Group, which runs a general entertainment channel NDTV Imagine. The company has launched its independent production group, called RedDot Productions, which will create and design content for television and interactive media.

With over 5000 hours of active programming under its belt, RedDot Productions will offer a whole array of services like documentaries, corporate films, advertiser-driven audio-visuals, media consultancy, learning aids, training modules and various genres of television programming ranging from travel, lifestyle, youth oriented and reality based shows, at competitive prices.

Dr. Prannoy Roy, chairman, NDTV Group, said, “RedDot is a team of NDTV’s most creative and talented people. It will be producing shows not only for all our channels, but also for other non-NDTV channels. With this launch, RedDot aims at leading the country with path breaking shows and create new standards that will bring world class production qualities to India.”

Richa Sahai, creative head, RedDot Productions, added, “The new unit will broaden the scope of what NDTV is known for within India and overseas. It will be a return to NDTV’s roots and core values of being a lean, efficient set-up run by a team of creative individuals producing high quality programming.”

RedDot Productions’ core team comes with an experience of over a decade in various genres of programming . Apart from the NDTV group, the team has previous work experience with organisations such as Discovery Travel & Living, BBC, ESPN, Star Plus, Sony, Pogo, Zoom and Doordarshan.

Big 92.7 FM Hyderabad to campaign for Deccan Chargers

April 17, 2009

For the second time in succession, Big 92.7 FM Hyderabad has inked a deal with Deccan Chronicle’s IPL franchise Deccan Chargers to be their official radio partner. Under the terms of the agreement, all Big 92.7 FM stations in Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad, Vizag and Tirupati) will be extending their support to Deccan Chargers.

Says Big 92.7 FM Hyderabad station head Ramesh Bhaskar, “The radio station had big plans if the matches were held in India. We were planning to entertain the in-stadia crowd through lots of contests around Deccan Chargers. We were planning to have live booths in stadiums but unfortunately those plans went awry. But what we continue to do is to explore all options to charge the team from back home.”

As part of the new plan, the radio station has started airing promos supporting Deccan Chargers titled Deccan Chargers Dhumle Pandi. The radio station will air exclusive interviews of the players of Deccan Chargers.

“We will host ‘Radio Cricket’ a contest around Deccan Chargers which will be aired on days of the home matches. Also, we plan to give away exclusive Deccan Charges merchandises to our contest winners. Additionally, our OB vans branded with Deccan Chargers will roam around the state taking messages from listeners which will be later aired as part of celebrating Deccan Chargers”, adds Bhaskar.

The radio station is not sending its listeners to watch Deccan Chargers match live in South Africa. “Sending listeners to South Africa to watch the matches involving Deccan Chargers is not part of the deal. We have tied up with hotels in Hyderabad for example, ‘Platinum’ where listeners will get a chance to see the match on the big screen,” explains Bhaskar.

Big 92.7 FM is in advanced talks with other IPL franchises and is looking at closing deals with them shortly.

The radio station has not signed up with any other radio station in South Africa for the IPL updates. “We have not yet thought about partnering with any external media for updates on IPL either. The Deccan Chronicle team, which is in South Africa, will be giving us all the updates on the IPL matches,” adds Bhaskar.

Zee Muzic to hunt for anchors in new reality series

April 17, 2009

Zee Muzic, which is in the process of rebranding the channel as Zing, is launching a new reality series, Cornetto Anchor Hunt.

The series will also be aired on Zee Trendz at 10 pm every Monday, starting 20 April.

The channel will be on a nationwide search for three fresh faces that will go on to become anchors of new shows on Zee Muzic (Zing), ETC and Zee Trendz. The hunt will begin from 19 April at 11 am.

Zee Muzic (Zing), ETC and Zee Trendz business head Anurag Bedi says “Cornetto Anchor Hunt aims to provide aspiring anchors a chance to prove their mettle, a platform to network with mentors and bag plum assignments as anchors of our new shows. We are very pleased with the kind of talent we’ve unearthed through this series and have no doubts that our winners will emerge as extremely popular, engaging television hosts.”

The show will see Lubna Adam, Manasi Scott, Arjan Bajwa, Celina Jaitley and Tusshar Kapoor donning the judges’ hat. The reality hunt will see Bobby Darling as an unlikely candidate participating in the show.

Star Plus to co-sponsor Kolkata Knight Rider

April 17, 2009

Hindi general entertainment channel Star Plus has partnered with Shah Rukh Khan’s Kolkata Knight Rider (KKR) as co-sponsor for the IPL franchisee.

As part of the sponsorship deal, KKR players will have the Star Plus logo displayed on the back of their T-shirts during the matches.

Says Star Plus EVP and GM Keertan Adyanthaya, “Star Plus and Shah Rukh Khan have had a long-standing association with each other. It is indeed a pleasure to have the Kolkata Knight Rider team wear T-shirts with our logo as they endeavour to win the IPL.”

GEC Genre: Colors surpasses Star Plus supremacy in Week 15

April 16, 2009

For about nine years, Star Plus has ruled the Indian television as the number one Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC). In these nine years, many channels have been close to Star Plus in some odd weeks, but none of them have been successful in surpassing supremacy of the numero uno channel. 

Colors, with its unique and innovative programming, has finally done it, by surpassing Star Plus by 25 GRPs. In the last four weeks, Colors was almost close to Star Plus, but the latter still held the number one position. 

As per TAM Media Research, in Week 15 (C&S, 4+, HSM), Colors managed to rake in 292 GRPs, while Star Plus garnered 267. Zee TV, at number three place, managed to fetch 236 GRPs, making it an equally interesting battle. 

The GRPs of both Colors and Star Plus dipped from the previous week. While Colors’ GRP came down from 298 to 292, that of Star Plus dipped from 307 to 267. 

However, Zee TV has gained marginally from 235 to 236. The relative channel shares of Colors, Star Plus and Zee TV stand at 25 per cent, 22 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.

Even as Colors is excited about reaching the top in such a short time, Star Plus is optimistic of regaining its leadership. 

Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India, said, “Star Plus is a leader and an innovator since the last nine years. Leadership is a position that needs to be held week after week, consistently and steadily. We are confident that we will regain our leadership.”

It may be noted that from April 01, Colors had turned pay even though the channel is offering promotional schemes in CAS markets and is still on air in these pockets. The uncertainty on the impact of going pay on ratings settles a bit now considering that the channel has managed to stay around its numbers for two weeks now. 

In Week 15, Colors aired five movies. Singh is Kinng, which was telecast without any commercial breaks, fetched a TVR of 2.4 on Colors on Sunday. Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na got a TVR of 1.3; while Bhoothnath got 1.2. Another movie, Indra The Tiger recorded a TVR of 1. These films were telecast with two to three breaks. Colors garnered 50 GRPs from the movies alone.

Colors has focused on the three Ds – distribution, differentiation and disruption. Colors has done quite a few innovations – roping in Akshay Kumar to host Fear Factor and Shilpa Shetty to anchor Bigg Boss season 2, telecasting a child marriage story on prime-time and having a kids’ laughter reality show.

Mona Jain, India head, strategic investments, India Media Exchange (IMX), says that if Colors is able to maintain its top rank for four to five weeks, it would be a huge competition for Star Plus. “One week is not a true benchmark (to assess leadership),” she said.

In Week 15, NDTV Imagine is at number four place with 90 GRPs, followed by Sony with 78 GRPs at number five. Star One follows with 60 GRPs, while Sab TV, with 49 GRPs, is at number seven.

Sahara One has raked in 48 GRPs, followed by Star Utsav and DD1, each of which have 26 GRPs. 9X and Real have recorded 23 and 19 GRPs respectively.

High-Definition TV hits India

April 16, 2009

Nearly five years after High-Definition (HD) televisions flooded the Indian market, viewers are finally set to get a taste of high-definition television viewing . This, as HD-enabled MPEG 4 set-top boxes that enable HD content to play on these televisions, were so far absent in the Indian market. The Tamil Nadu-based DTH player, Sun Direct, which claims to be the second largest DTH player in the country with an active subscriber base of 3.1 million, has altered the scenario. By launching Sun Direct HD, the player, which will continue to offer its non-HD DTH services, has become the first service provider in India to offer high-definition viewing television services.The less than two-year old company, which has so far incurred ‘expected’ cumulative annual losses of Rs. 450 crore and is looking to break-even in the next four to five years, is banking on the niche HD service as one of the offerings that will help in achieving its target of three million additional customers in FY 2009-’10. Though Tony D’Silva, COO, Sun Direct, admitted at a press conference held in Mumbai that the penetration of DTH is higher and semi-rural and rural areas where cable network faces several hindrances as compared to metros like Mumbai and Delhi, he added that target clients belonged to Segment A and B in metros and big cities.

Justifying the decision to offer HD-enabled MPEG 4 set-top boxes imported from Samsung to the viewers at a cost of Rs 10,000, D’Silva said, “The HD-viewing experience is definitely a niche offering. With LCD sales set to touch the 1.5 million mark this financial year, we are looking at capturing 20 per cent of these LCD owners for our subscriber base. As for the next financial year, the government’s decision to offer a HD broadcast of the 2010 Commonwealth Games should popularise the format to a great extent. Also, as we have seen in the past, LCD televisions as well as the HD set-top box are bound to see a fall in prices, thus attracting more customers. As for the monthly fees, it is an affordable Rs 100, available as an addition to our basic packs.”

For those new to the term, high-definition viewing typically refers to five times sharper picture quality; a more effective, CD-like sound quality in the form of 5.1 channel Dolby and a 16:9 aspect ratio that allows for wide-angle viewing and thus makes the viewer’s more ‘real’. However, contrary to the belief of most anticipating it would be adventure and lifestyle channels as well as news channels that would make for initial HD content in India, it will be Tamil and Telugu movie channels, one each, that will serve as the first HD broadcasters in India. Elaborating on the content plan, D’Silva said, “We are looking at launching the Sun Direct HD in two phases that will be spread out across the ongoing financial year. In the first phase, we will be able to launch four channels without increasing our transponder capacity. These four channels include two movie channels, one each in Tamil and Telugu, offering HD-compatible films from SUN TV’s library to kick-start operations. In fact, we plan to add four new movies every month to this already well-stocked library.” Not a surprising strategy when 85 per cent of the DTH player’s clientele are viewers in South India.

However, having started its pan-India roll-out in September last year, it has also entered into an agreement with the National Geographic Channel (NGC) for bringing one of its HD channels onto the platform. Though the NGC is in the process of acquiring a license for facilitating HD broadcast for four of its channels – Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Music, Nat Geo Adventure and Nat Geo HD in India, limited transponder capacity will see Sun Direct HD going ahead with just one for its first phase. A plan to develop a library for Hindi films shot on HD and subsequently initiating an exclusive channel for the same is on the anvil as well. But this is likely to take anywhere between three to six months, admitted V. Narayan, Head-Marketing, Sun Direct.

As for the second phase, for which the provider will have to get permission for increasing transponder capacity, a clear content strategy is yet to be derived upon. Perhaps, news channels like INX news, which have shifted to the HD format and channels like Star TV (which opted for HD for the latest version of Mahabharata), could make for potential choices.