While soaps, sitcoms, and mythologicals do attract audiences and at times help a new TV channel establish itself very quickly (Ramayan on NDTV Imagine, for e.g.), there is no escaping the fact that Bollywood has the largest program library and a reliable one at that. Every major television channel launched over the past decade or so has relied on Bollywood films to boost ratings and gradually diversify its programming. This trend, in turn, has been a major source of revenue for film producers. All the hype surrounding “new media” aside, TV rights constitutes a large percentage of a producer’s revenue stream.
Now, with major companies like Reliance, UTV, and NDTV entering the domain of “general entertainment” TV, the business of film rights is set to change. According to this report on the Indiantelevision trade site, established TV channels such as Sahara and SONY are syndicating titles to new entrants.
Sony Entertainment Television (SET) India has syndicated 70 titles to INX Media, the Peter-Indrani Mukerjea venture, for over Rs 400 million. For 9X, the Hindi general entertainment channel from the INX Media stable, this was an important part of the overall programming strategy. Movies have primarily driven the ratings of the channel.
Not surprisingly, the decision to buy syndication rights to a specific film or set of films is closely tied to the new TV channel’s branding strategy which, in turn, is premised on exclusivity (will this film air on a competing channel in the near future?). Entire story here. As far as I know, TV channels have not played the syndication game with soaps/sitcoms/other programs. It’s interesting to note that TV industry logics are still being shaped by the film industry.