Are we a Noise-loving TV Nation?

Noise Loving Nation?You would normally not associate positive emotions with the word ‘noise’. It’s generally assumed and accepted that noise is bad. In context of television too, the media has propagated this notion for a while now. But there is very little real evidence to accept this belief. In fact, there is telling evidence to the contrary.

For many of us, the first association with noise on Indian television would be Arnab Goswami. His rival channels even start their bulletins (the 10pm news on NDTV, for example) with the line ‘where you get news, not noise’. Yet, the high viewership of Arnab’s show speaks for itself. In the noise and the cacophony lies a sense of power the viewer feels. When you see the privileged political class being put in the docks and spoken to like they are criminals (words like hypocrite and hooligan are routinely used by Arnab to describe his guests), you feel empowered by proxy. And that would be impossible without the noise.   Continue reading

Posted in News, Television | Tagged | Leave a comment

The much-abused media word: Passion!

“What is the one thing about this role that interested you so much that you applied for it?”

Over a decade now, having met more than a hundred ‘candidates’ (I prefer the expression ‘potential team members’, but it is a mouthful) for various positions, first in the television industry and now at Ormax Media, I have found this to be the one question that does half the job.

Many candidates speak about the company’s credentials in their answers, in which case, being a true researcher now, I reiterate the “you” in the question. After all, why would a company’s credentials interest you, unless there was something in it for you? Continue reading

Posted in Television | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Dhoom 3 Facts: How ‘Big’ is ‘Big’?

The Dhoom 3 campaign is only a trailer old. The film is about five weeks away from release. No songs have been released. There’s nothing substantive on-air besides the trailer. The paid TV campaign has not started.

But Dhoom 3 is already HUGE. In bold and caps. Here are three facts from Ormax Cinematix to explain this better: Continue reading

Posted in Box Office, Films, Research | 13 Comments

Is Bollywood Really a ‘Religion’?

There are many stereotypes that have stayed in the film industry over years. The one about not releasing a film in ‘shraadhs’ stands out as outdated in particular. With release windows becoming an increasing challenge, every opportunity needs to be ceased. And the young theatre-going population don’t have ‘shraadhs’ on their mind for sure. (Besharam opened at a huge 19.5 cr during the shraadh period).

Another untested stereotype was about not releasing a film pre-Diwali, defined as the 3-4 day period leading up to to the big festival. There has been no precedent over the last decade at least. So when Rakesh Roshan chose a pre-Diwali release for Krrish 3, we were dealing with untested waters. In Ormax Media’s forecast model (FBO), the performance of the campaign suggested that if Krrish 3 released on a normal Friday (not a holiday), it would have clocked Rs. 29.5 cr on its opening day, within striking distance of the Day 1 record, on which the top two positions are held by holiday releases. (Krrish 3 went on to break that record on its fourth day, of course). Continue reading

Posted in Box Office | 5 Comments

300 Cr: Ready To Be Breached!

If not Krrish 3, then Dhoom 3. If not Dhoom 3, then PK. But it’s only a matter of time that a new Hindi film crosses the 300 cr nett mark at the domestic box office. 3 Idiots breached the 200 cr mark almost four years ago. The domestic box office business has grown by more than 100% since then. If 3 Idiots released this December, it would have comfortably crossed 300 cr, if not 350.  Continue reading

Posted in Box Office, Films | 17 Comments

Congratulations! You are too ‘evolved’ to be measured by TV ratings

If you were on social media, especially Twitter last weekend, you would have surely encountered glowing reviews about the Indian version of ’24′. The show, that went on-air last Friday, received predominant positive feedback from Twitter, as well as from the television and film industry, including competitors of the channel airing it. The feedback was on the same lines in the corporate community too.

For most of these stakeholders, ’24′ brings in the hope that our television will change for the better, and become relevant to them personally. When I tweeted the following last Saturday, I was hoping to be proven wrong: “Our ratings system will never capture #24India’s real impact. Anything that’s skewed towards upper strata tends to be under-reported in TAM.”

Alas, it was not to be. ’24′ opened to tepid “audience” response, scoring below the 2-TVR mark in its opening week. Evidently, the audience that enjoys Diya Aur Baati Hum and Jodha-Akbar every night decided to stay away.

But are they the only “audience”? As any brand manager of a semi-premium or premium brand would want to know: Are these really the audiences who buy my products? I just picked up today’s The Times Of India (Mumbai) for a quick check: 7 out of the 13 prominent ads in the paper are either luxury brands or brands clearly targeted at an evolving mindset that’s doing more things that watching the same serial every night for the last four years.

No wonder that 5 out of these 7 don’t use TV at all for their advertising. Because the measurement metric just doesn’t factor the reality of their target audience –socially mobile, affluent and evolving consumers who are increasingly going to craft the marketing future in India. Let’s call them “Evolving” for the purpose of this piece, only for brevity.

Are the Elite being measured by TAM? In 2007, TAM made an attempt to set up an ‘elite panel’, perhaps with a similar idea. Within months, the service had to be aborted because the differences between the main panel SEC A and the elite panel were not striking enough. But their definition of ‘Elite’ was based purely on affluence, not on attitudes and mindsets, which often concern brands more.

Since then, we have been in status quo mode. The following five “Evolving” segments are not being captured by the current ratings:

1. Senior industry professionals, e.g. CXOs and HODs

2. English-speaking audiences who often watch their “TV” on the Internet

3. Time-shifted viewers, who watch DVR recordings

4. HD feed viewers

5. Upmarket housing areas so posh that they are not research-accessible

Crude estimates will suggest that these five will add upto at least 50 million viewers. But if they represent 6% of India’s TV population, they represent at least 15-20% of India’s spending power. But there is no data, none at all, that captures their viewership. No wonder then that many advertisers have chosen to stay off television and taken the print way instead.

We routinely conduct studies for premium brands that sponsor TV programmes, to understand whether the association helped them achieve their marketing objectives. Often, the general brief is: “We have the ratings, but we always knew they will be low on TAM. We want to know whether it actually worked for us in our TG or not.” That “our TG” is not being captured by TAM is an obvious inference to be drawn here.

BARC has been speaking about coming up with a ratings system that’s future-ready. If they have to indeed achieve that, they will need to address this elusive “Evolving” audience. Otherwise, we will just have more sample size of the same type of audience being reported.

For me, ’24′ is the best Indian television has offered on the fiction front in a long time. Today, I feel like a voter who is ignored by the local politician because he does not belong to the caste that controls the vote bank. Or like a resident of the village in Akshay Kumar’s Joker, whose inhabitants realize their village just doesn’t exist on India’s map.

There are many like me who will like to be “measured”. And the implications of measuring “us” are not just commercial, but social too. Today, television is the lead medium in India in terms of its influence on young minds of the country. The programming we churn out will decide the nature of this influence. If something as technical as measurement comes in the way of this process, it will be nothing short of tragic.

This post first appeared on, on my weekly column ‘TV Trail’

Posted in Television | 1 Comment

Box Office 2013 So Far: The Year Of The Youth?

It’s been a rather unusual year for Bollywood so far. We are four months into the year, and there has been not a single 100cr film yet. Race 2 has almost touched that mark, but most trade reports suggest its domestic lifetime nett business is around 95cr. Only one other film (Special 26) has crossed the 50cr mark.

There are three others in the 40cr range – Kai Po Che, Chashme Baddoor and Himmatwala. But the latter missed its target (at least the one proudly set by its director in various media interviews) by more than 100cr!

The 30cr club includes ABCD, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola and Jolly LLB. Aashiqui 2 should be entering this club for sure, making 2012 a year of many small victories but no real huge ones like Agneepath or Kahaani. The second half of the year is packed with some huge films, so there is more than enough material to correct that.

But what stands out clearly for me is the consolidation of the youth trend. Three films – ABCD, Chashme Baddoor and Aashiqui 2 – have managed to becomes prominent hits on the strength of young India’s theatre patronage. Kai Po Che at least had the urban elite, office-going crowds supporting it. But these three films have managed to achieve box office glory without any real support from the so-called “high-end multiplexes” or the critics. It has been “mass” success in every sense of the word.

Chashme Baddoor is the simpler of the three success stories. It’s a comedy after all, and the appeal this genre enjoys is fairly well known. But the other two films caught most trade experts off-guard. When we forecasted opening day box office in the 4-5cr range for ABCD and Aashiqui 2 about a month before their respective releases, there was a sense of disbelief. I must admit, the disbelief was not just in the industry, but within our office too.

Can ABCD actually cross 4cr on its opening day? It was releasing with Special 26, an Akshay Kumar film, and had no real star credentials to show. Unlike Aashiqui 2, it didn’t even have a chartbuster song. In the case of Aashiqui 2, the music was ruling the charts for two weeks before the release, but the starcast had no equity at all, not even the DID-led equity that the ABCD stars enjoyed.

But we stuck to the forecasts that Ormax Cinematix’s FBO model suggested, and the actual numbers were only a notch higher! Some trade websites forecasted 7-8cr weekend for Aashiqui 2 last week, which would suggest a first day of less than 2.5cr. On days like this, one realises the true power of consumer data!

There are two distinct aspects about this youth phenomenon that fascinate me. The first one is to do with WOM (Word Of Mouth). Our extensive understanding now suggests clearly that WOM spreads the fastest for youthful films, and the slowest for family films. So, a film like Aashiqui 2 can show growth over the course of the day on strength of the youth buzz generated from the morning show onwards, while the more family-inclusive Mere Dad Ki Maruti never really catches on instantly, and by the time the WOM picks up (eventually at a very good score of 61), it’s already Monday and the film is struggling to find audiences.

The second aspect of the youth phenomenon is to do with their content tastes. There has been a lot of stereotyping that goes about the youth only liking content that offers instant gratification, such as physical romance, item songs, college comedy etc. But ABCD proved that they can enjoy an inspirational story in equal measure. Aashiqui 2 has now proven that emotional love stories, especially when backed by melodious music, have a huge connect too. 

ABCD scored 72 on the WOM index (at par with Special 26 and two points ahead of Kai Po Che), while Chashme Baddoor is at 63. Aashiqui 2 scores will be out next week, and based on box office trending, should be fairly decent too. That ABCD is the joint leader on the WOM index so far this year is a great example of how the youth are willing to go beyond the frivolous and embrace the emotional and the inspirational, even when it comes without a starcast and with many execution flaws. The only non-negotiable element is “entertainment” (which is where Nautanki Saala struggled, with a WOM of 42 only, primarily because of its sluggish pace).

Yes, the young India will throng the theatres to watch Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Dhoom 3 too. But it is their interest in non-starcast cinema that holds great business potential for filmmakers in Bollywood. You can actually come up with a subject that’s youth-relevant, and execute it with a wafer-thin budget and make 35cr+ with relatively low risk levels.

And Sajid Khan thought a Himmatwala remake was India’s youth idea of entertainment!

Posted in Box Office, Films | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment