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Competition for new movie titles to increase under new tariff regime

With TRAI’s new regime in place, movie channels will have to improve the quality of films they air if they want to retain the audience. Experts say leading Hindi movie channels can no longer rely on South-dubbed movies and repeats, and believe competition to acquire new titles may lead to a hike in acquisition rates

Now that consumers are choosing their preferred channels under Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) new framework, the fight for survival might become intense for movie channels. Unlike Hindi general entertainment channels that enjoy guaranteed viewership from the fans of various shows, movie channels depend on film titles.

In the new regime, the viewers will have to select and pay only for those channels they want to watch instead of the entire pack. As a result, the consumer won’t have the advantage of surfing multiple channels. Earlier, the consumer would surf movie channels and select a movie they wish to watch. However, now that advantage is gone as the viewer will have to select certain channels for a month.

Several leading Hindi movie channels rely heavily on dubbed content from the South. But as consumers are restricted to a particular channel for a month, they will expect differentiated content.

According to a media analyst, presently there are around 10-12 movie channels and in order to survive they will have to introduce new titles in the library. “The repeat quotient is high, which won’t help the channel. Now movie channels will have to balance out the repeats and introduce new titles to maintain a consumer’s interest,” the expert said.

In order to be relatable and attract consumers, the movie channels will have to expand their movie library with new titles. As a result, it is possible competition to win satellite rights of movies will increase, which might lead to a hike in acquisition rates.

“The movie channels, especially the leading ones, will have to acquire new movie titles to keep the consumer interested. The quality of content has to go up and the channels can’t rely on South-dubbed films anymore. As leading movie channels, they will have to invest in content. If a consumer is paying Rs 15 for a channel, then he will expect some fresh content. He would want value for his money, so the competition for the satellite rights will go up in the future,” a leading distributor said.

Experts also feel that channels will earn enough revenue through subscription to invest in new movie titles. “A leading movie channel is priced at Rs 15, which is quite a good amount. And if say half a million people start paying for it, then its revenue will definitely increase. So, there shouldn’t be any reason not to invest in new movie titles.”

Apart from competing with each other, movie channels are also battling with digital platforms such as Netflix and Amazon. Nowadays, following the popularity of digital platforms, production houses prefer OTT platforms as the first window of release, post-theatrical debut. Films like Thugs of Hindostan, Veere Di Wedding, Stree, Manmarziyaan and Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi among others were released on digital before their television premiere.

The experts believe that in comparison to the current programming on television, the movie offering will improve in the new regime. “The channels will be competing to win the audience and as a result, the quality of content will go up. It is what happens with digital platforms, the content is attracting the viewers. Similarly, on television, good content will attract viewers,” the expert said.

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