Oct. 19--MUMBAI -- Chennai Express, the Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone film that collected a record Rs.226 crore at the box office in India, is now set for its television debut.
Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL), which paid over Rs.48 crore to the film producers to acquire the television broadcast rights for the film for seven years, has booked sponsorship worth Rs.16 crore for its premier on the small screen on 20 October. The sponsorship amount is possibly the highest for a single-day screening.
For the television premier of the romantic comedy directed by Rohit Shetty, Zee has pulled in 13 sponsors with 10-second advertising spots going for as much as Rs.5 lakh, according to media industry estimates.
The advertisers associated with the premier feature prominently on the hoardings of the movie and include the two-wheeler brand Hero Passion, Bru coffee, Close Up toothpaste, Idea Cellular mobile network, Nirma Salt, WeChat, a mobile messaging application, Lenovo smartphones, automaker Tata Motors, Nikon, Microsoft Windows 8, Nivea skincare, Nerolac Paints and Quikr.com, an e-commerce website.
The network has also sold advertising inventory separately for the high-definition (HD) version of the channel, Zee HD. The HD channel has signed up sponsors such as Piramal Healthcare, Skoda, Eureka Forbes, Quikr.com, Ferrero India, Lenovo and Panasonic India. The rates for HD are pegged at Rs.1l akh for 10 seconds, as the reach of HD is much lower than that of the main channel.
The strategy adopted by the network, according to two independent media buyers, was to sell ad spots at Rs.5-5.5 lakh per 10 seconds for two film airings.
"Advertisers are paying a premium for the first film airing, and the second airing (is) coming as a bonus for some advertisers," said one media buyer on the condition of anonymity, adding that the airings would be on two separate days, as opposed to the usual practice of double airing on a single day, thus, making it even more lucrative for the advertiser.
Television channels say that such a hefty investment in a blockbuster film makes sense for them to pull in new audiences.
"My loyal audiences will tune in to my shows anyway, but such big movies help us draw in a bulk of new audiences. If they like my programming they will stay," said Ashish Sehgal, chief sales officer, ZEEL.
The broadcaster is pulling out all the stops to ensure high viewership with customized promotions for the film as well as print and outdoor ads.
For advertisers, movies like Chennai Express offer large audiences, especially during the festive season, which is a key month for most advertisers, including paint companies.
"Our alliance with the world TV premier of Chennai Express was not just a natural extension of our brand association with Shah Rukh Khan or our co-branded commercial with the film; It was also the fact that we were going to be present on the biggest media property of the year," said Sukhpreet Singh, vice-president, marketing and sales (decorative), Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd.
He added that what made the company's investment decision easier was the fact that the channel had a comprehensive marketing plan to promote the film across print, TV, outdoor and diect-to-home television.
In the same vein, Aparna Mahesh, brand head of Quikr.com, said, "Sponsoring this film also makes sense from a media strategy perspective as we have just launched Quikr's new advertisements. Promoting them on a high impact property like Chennai Express helps us get maximum visibility upfront."
To be sure, ZEEL has been able to command a higher price for the film as the channel is already following the advertising cap of 12 minutes per programming hour as mandated by the Telecom Regulatory Authrority of India (TRAI). Clearly, the channel has reduced the advertising inventory and pushed up the rates by 20-30 %
Besides, the network is also exploiting the festival season as it is a time when advertisers, especially, consumer product companies, are most active on television.
That is not all. Popular films always garner large audiences for the network and, in turn, for the advertisers. "How a film has done in theatres plays a great role in drawing audiences to the television premier. It is also perhaps one genre (movies) on television, which attracts repeat viewing," said a media buyer on the condition of anonymity.
While market dynamics often determine the price of a film, it is also dependent on what works for television. At the end of the day, broadcasters bid for a handful of titles. "Only about 40-50 movies of the 200-odd Hindi films released in a year suit the requirements of the four main channels Zee, Sony, Star TV and Colors, and these are the ones on which we pounce," Jayantilal Gada, chief managing director of Pen India that sources movies for the television channels, said in an earlier interview.
ZEEL is hoping the investment would pay off. "It's rare to find movies like this, that you can monetize to this extent. But there's no doubt that it will be difficult for us to recover this investment," said Sehgal of ZEEL, adding that all future film deals were likely to be based on this model.
"Going forward, we will look for more of these deals (to determine the price for broadcast rights) which will be linked to the film's box-office performance. It works both ways... there could be an upside as well as a downside."