By Yohan P Chawla
The regional markets are the current high-growth frontiers for all businesses, particularly the media & entertainment industry, and we have seen a growing emphasis from broadcasters on the regional space. The latest instance has been of Viacom18 which has boosted its regional offering with the launch of a Kannada Movie channel, extending its GEC brand Colors to movies by naming the new channel Colors Kannada Cinema, which is a subscription-based channel set to go live on Monday the 24th of September, 2018. Viacom18 already has a strong presence in the Kannada market with two GECs — Colors Kannada and Colors Super.
One sees that Viacom 18’s marketing strategy for Colors Kannada Cinema is actually following in the footsteps of the marketing of the theatrical release of a new movie, objective of which is to concentrate all the marketing volume and visibility in the week leading up to the day the film opens in theatres. That is what marketers do to achieve their biggest movie marketing objective – to ensure the maximum footfalls on Day 1 of the film. Thereafter, even the best marketing will fail if the content cannot stand up and have the first day theatrical audience spreading great WoM about it. And on both counts – driving good audience numbers on Day 1, and the expectation of good WoM from the opening audiences, it would seem Colors Kannada Cinema wouldn’t really need to worry. Reason? They have as many as 5 Kannada Movie premieres lined up, back to back, Day 1 to Day 5, Monday to Friday, in Week 1.
So the launch week for Colors Kannada Cinema, which is well equipped with a library of more than 450 films across genres, will be a power-packed one, with 5 tentpole movie premieres designed to attract eye balls and mark the channels arrival amongst Kannada audiences. Moreover, the channel is set to also have a lot more content around movies such as songs, behind the scenes, bloopers, movie trivia, etcetera.
“The percentage of people communicating in our regional languages outside of Hindi is close to 60%, and the share of regional viewership is still sub-50,”says Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO- Viacom 18, on the opportunity in the overall South Indian Market. “Many of the regional languages, particularly down south, are in areas which have higher income indexation, so there is every reason for the viewership to grow and the monetization of that viewership should continue to grow. Therefore the yields, in my opinion, should also improve because of a lot of those eye balls are sitting in relatively well-off or better-off India. The income indexation of these markets are higher than that of the Hindi markets.”
TV and Film industries joined at the hip
Commenting on the interdependency of the television and the film industry, Ravish Kumar, Head – Regional Entertainment, Viacom18, says, “A very healthy broadcast industry is necessary for a healthy movie industry. Five years ago, there were maybe 70 to 80 Kannada movies being made in a year; today, that number has gone as high as 170-180 titles a year.”
So launch of Colors Kannada Cinema couldn’t have been timed better. Kumar says, “There has been an explosion of some phenomenal content across, and it’s the perfect time to grab the opportunity. Now, we are in a position where we can leverage and monetize movies in a way that wouldn’t have been possible in the past.”
On the scheduling of content, Kumar says, “Initially we will start off by doing a simplistic FPC where we will have movies slated back to back which includes the 5 premieres in the launch week. Down the road, we want to add more and more. We will have much more than movies with behind the scenes, songs, revisiting yesteryear stars or dialing up engagement in other ways. With the new explosion of content, we see ourselves doing a lot more.”
“Gone are the days when we needed big budgets and cameras to go out and shoot something,” Kumar says, adding, “We see ourselves getting into more user-generated content; maybe telefilms as well. I can assure you, we have a lot of ideas and we are really excited about them.”
A full library of 450 films and GEC content
Viacom 18 certainly has a full Kannada films library, with more than 450 films across genres. Add to it, as Kumar describes “the amount of content that we have currently running on the two GECs and the past library,” and even though he’s half joking, you appreciate what he follows that up with. “The temptation to put out a third GEC is very- very high, and I am trying to fight it!” Kumar says, smiling.
On Voot, Kumar says, “Voot is brilliant because everything we have can be put out on one platform. We are not bound by the earlier limitation. All our films and content will be available on Voot as well.”
Kumar says Colors Kannada Cinema has “a multi-crore (rupees) marketing campaign that will kick off very soon. The biggest levers are our two platforms right now which are the largest reach platforms in the entire state. Having said that, the campaign is going to be backed up with a lot of print and radio. Plus strong outdoor advertising in about 45 cities which would include a lot of bus-backs and cinema theatres as well.”
With 11% of viewership pie in the Kannada market going to Movies, the time is right to enter the movie genre. Of course, there is some formidable competition in the Kannada channels market. And while Colors Kannada Cinema, coming in on a very strong marketing campaign, should definitely see high sampling and traction and perhaps a higher than average a new channel would get thanks to its five back-to-back movie premieres, what will be interesting – and crucial — is how the channel connects with and engages the audience to retain it. Because an ongoing connection with the audience in a genre that is notorious for purely ephemeral, tactical, title-driven ‘loyalty’, has always been the biggest test of marketers across movie channels, across languages. Purely because they are subservient to and completely dependent upon the glue of content.
But Viacom 18 has been there, done that. For starters, even Colors Kannada alone could drive a very impactful and deep cross-promotion drive for its newest sibling. After all, in Rural and Urban Karnataka (2+ all NCCS) per BARC data for Week 35, Colors Kannada has been the top Kannada TV channel with 445756000 sum impressions, leads Zee Kannada (412228000), is nearly twice Udaya TV (243434000) and more than double of Udaya Movies (219771000) and Star Suvarna (146555000). To say nothing of all the other Viacom 18 channels and properties in South India.
So the battle lines are already drawn.