Indian Television Dot Com
In the third instalment of our genrePrimer series - which aims to provide basic information and insights about specific TV genres - we continue with our focus on the English movie channels’ space in India. This time, we have Times Television Network English Entertainment Channels CEO Ajay Trigunayat speaking to’s Sidharth Iyer about how Movies Now is faring in this genre. Excerpts from the conversation…

“English movie channels are niche in no way”

10 December 2013 03:05 pm

What is the local strategy adopted by the channel to attract viewers and more so encourage co-viewing (kids & parents together)?

We do not do anything specific to encourage co-viewing; what needs to be understood is that India is still a single-screen television household market. Multiple television households are growing but the growth is single digit and hence, our focus is on the content we air and the promotions we carry out.

Content-wise, we ensure three things: firstly, that it is child safe; secondly, it is gender neutral and finally, there are no embarrassing moments either for the parents or the children.

What is the competitive landscape like? Who are your main viewers (age, urban or non urban, etc)?

I think the target audience has always been ahead of the business and the brand in case of English movie channels. When we launched Movies Now, the English movies genre used to cater only to markets in Delhi and Mumbai but we tried to cater to the other five metros markets as well. Our first goal was to reach out to all eight markets in a homogeneous manner. Like when we saw Star Movies wasn’t available in Chennai till about a year ago, that too on one of the largest MSOs there - SCV, we decided to provide distribution in places like Chennai and Ahmedabad.

When Movies Now entered the market in 2010, you could not expect to get more than 60 per cent viewership from the eight metros; even now, it is only 57 per cent. While the remaining one million towns account for nearly 19 per cent, the balance 22-23 per cent comes from the rest of India.

Please note that even after putting all the marketing might behind the eight metros, the cumulative viewership is not more than 60 per cent, implying that 40 per cent of the viewership is coming from places where no extensive marketing has been done.

This is marketing myopia, as we have already provided it in eight metros and in the second leg we have provided one million plus towns. Very soon, we will be catering to an all-India viewership as far as English movie channels are concerned.

So, it’s a myth that English movie channels are the domain of metros or that of members of either sex as far as viewership is concerned. The genre is watched equally by men and women, the young and the old so there is no gender or age-based discrimination.

Familiarity with the language and the ability to catch accents is critical, which is why when Zee introduced subtitling for movies, it helped people understand the language better. So much so there have been instances where people simply read subtitles to understand the story.

Statistically speaking, there are 70 million people watching English movie channels and this is not a niche number. A look at facts and figures busts myths like English movie channels are a niche/youth/male domain etc. Yes, the men may be around 53-54 per cent – but that is roughly the same as the gender ratio in the country.

What kind of numbers are you generating in terms of viewership and who is your audience?

SEC is purely an urban benchmark; for example, there is no research or syndicated research in the country which measures the rural audience. And here, rural is not equal to poor; it’s just that the population strata might be rural but is not being addressed rightly, so there is substantial viewership which is hopefully being addressed through the rapid expansion of DTH in the country.

This is a significant contribution which is not getting measured. The only reliable data we have is disclosures by various DTH operators that are easily accessible on the TRAI website. Going by these disclosures, there are nearly 52 million households in the country but if we take into consideration TAM data, it’s only 32 million. So, the gap may be filled in by viewers from rural regions of the country, which is not really captured by an urban SEC definition.

How big is the advertising market? Which categories spend the most on advertising on your channel? Are there any new emerging spenders?

Between 2010 and 2012, the English movie category grew leaps and bounds and today, it’s worth nearly Rs 600 crore.

The biggest spenders this year are in the FMCG and personal care categories, followed by personal goods, white goods, automobile, IT and telecom. However, the contribution from IT and telecom witnessed a fall last year. With approximately 285 clients on-board and having crossed the 325 clients’ mark this year, it would imply over 1,000 brands.

New emerging spenders are from the digital space like We Chat and line messenger as well as e-commerce sites like Ibibo and Flipkart. With consumer engagement with mobiles on the rise, this is the future and whatever the apps will have to be promoted aggressively.

What does advertising on such channels offer to these advertisers? Any trends and insights you can share for the same? 

With each channel reaching out to approximately 20 million viewers; we reach out to nearly 20 million, another say 25 million Star reaches out to. So, reach would be generated by platforms like ours. Plus, the English speaking viewer is the innovator and the first-mover in any category. So, the initial investment will come in this space and later, they will invest in platforms where the reach is even larger (Hindi GECs like Star Plus or Zee TV).

How is Movies Now making its presence felt in social media? Which digital agency handles your digital media?

Our digital agency is Flarepath Digital, but our creative agency (BBH) and media agency (Madison) are actively involved in pushing the envelope in the social media space.

The ideation and execution of all campaigns is done by Flarepath in consultation with both agencies, so they work well in tandem, with some help from our in-house marketing team.

Looking at sheer numbers, Movies Now has the largest presence on facebook with over 3.32 million likes versus HBO India which has 2.87 million likes, Star Movies - 2.56 million likes, and Sony Pix - 1.6 million likes.

On Twitter too, Movies Now is leading by a huge margin with 116.5K followers, practically double that of any other player in this space. We are big on Pintrest as well as the largest channel followed on Google. So it’s all about how you market yourself.

The digital consumer is picky; if he/she likes something, they market it on their own by sharing it with and tweeting it to their friends and the process is never ending, thus making our job that much easier if we cater to the right audiences on this space.

We try and pick up trends and take the discussion forward on air as well as off air if possible and generate buzz around that topic and create traction among the viewers.