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MSM plans to launch HD version of Sony Max

MUMBAI: Multi Screen Media (MSM) is
launching a high-definition (HD)
version of its Hindi movie channel
Sony Max. The company will, however,
wait for BARC’s rural data before
launching the other new channels.
MSM senior EVP & business head Max &
Max2 Neeraj Vyas said that the
company is doing paperwork
formalities prior to the launch of
Sony Max HD. “I am ready with it. As
soon as we see the right environment,
we will go into it.”
Queried whether the company is
planning to launch a channel in the
music genre, Vyas said that the
company will wait for BARC’s rural
data before launching new channels.
However, Max HD has no such
restrictions as it is just an extension
of the SD channel.

“We will wait for the rural ratings
and then we will think of launching
new channels. Launching is easy, but
running it is the big challenge. For
Max HD, you don’t need to wait for
rural ratings,” he noted.
BARC data and Hindi movie channels
Talking about BARC data, Vyas said
that the urban individual and
household data released by BARC is
yet to settle.

While stating that the BARC data has
seen a lot of fluctuations in several
markets, Vyas opined that BARC must
be allowed to settle down particularly
since it took TAM Media Research 20
years to do so.

“They need to consolidate urban data
and once there is complete stability
and complete confidence of that data,
then rural data is always welcome,”
he stated.

Vyas believes that channels will need
density of reach and availability to
succeed in the rural markets.
“Whenever rural data comes, how far
and wide you are available will be the
real test,” he stated, adding that the
movie genre will be a big gainer.
The key for TV channels to succeed in
rural market will be to understand the
rural landscape like lifestyle, habits,
TV penetration and electricity. He
also foresees 4–6 months of
uncertainty for the industry once the
rural ratings come out.

One key takeaway for Vyas from TAM
and BARC is that the Hindi movie
genre has been stable across both the
audience measurement systems.
“If you look at BARC ratings, there
has been a 15–20 per cent growth in
Hindi movie genre,” he stated.
The growth has come despite factors
like repeat content, audience
fragmentation due to new platforms,
airing of movies on local cable
channels and piracy. “Despite all this
fragmentation, it has sustained,”
Vyas asserted.

Ad spends up

Despite the not-so-buoyant economic
outlook, Vyas claimed that advertising
spends have not seen a downturn.
“We have seen an extremely crazy
dichotomy this year. The markets are
down, the banks are struggling, and
home loans are in a bad state.
Nothing is positive beyond a point.
Despite all this, advertising has grown
21 per cent as per Pitch Madison
report,” he said.

According to Vyas, the upcoming
festive season will be one of the best
for his network in general and the
channels he heads in particular. He
expects advertising revenue of Sony
Max and Max2 and the lone music
channel Sony Mix to grow by 15–20
per cent.

Four advertising categories, namely
e-commerce, retail, FMCG, telecom
and handsets are powering this
growth. The fifth one could be the
launch of Reliance Jio, which will
trigger competition among the telcos.
New premieres lined up
On the content front, Sony Max has
several new premieres lined up
including SS Rajamouli’s bilingual epic
historical fiction ‘Bahubali: The
Beginning’, which will premiere on 25
October. Other premieres include UTV
Motion Pictures’ romantic comedy
‘Katti Batti’ and Kabir Khan’s action
thriller ‘Phantom’, and Disney India’s
‘ABCD 2′.

Earlier, the channel had premiered
‘Piku’, which is an in-house
production, and Vidhu Vinod Chopra
and Raj Kumar Hirani’s ‘PK’.
Slowdown on movie acquisitions
Giving his perspective on movie
acquisition, Vyas said that there is
still a slowdown on film acquisition.
However, the much-needed price
correction has also started happening.
“’PK’ was acquired 6–8 months after
release. Two years back, it would have
been acquired eight months before
release. That in itself is a huge
change,” he averred.

He also said that the failure of films
has prompted a lot of studios to go
back to the drawing board. Films with
wholesome entertainment are being
lapped up by audiences whether it is
theatrical or television.

“A number of films that have not
confirmed to those norms have failed.
Edgy is not going to work beyond a
point unless you decide that you are
making it for a niche audience and
then you forget the satellite part of
it completely,” he explained.
Acquiring movie rights for digital
With digital becoming an important
part of a broadcaster’s strategy, MSM
will start acquiring rights for the
digital platform as well. Acquiring
movie rights for digital makes sense
since MSM has a video-on-demand
(VoD) platform called Sony Liv.
“Till now, we were acquiring only
satellite and overseas rights, but
digital is something that we are keen
to acquire, plus we have a platform
also,” he revealed.

However, not all producers are keen
on selling digital rights to
broadcasters as they want to
monetise those rights on their own.
On the issue of the Central Board of
Film Certification (CBFC) refusing to
re-certify films for television, Vyas
said that while the matter is sub
judice, the decision has impacted
English films more than the Hindi


Talking about Max2, which completed
one year in July, Vyas said that the
channel has opened up a new category
catering to higher age groups.
“It’s a genre that was waiting to be
discovered. It serves a slightly older
TG. The 25+ TG has never been
catered to and Max2 dedicatedly does
that,” Vyas said.
The distribution of the channel has
also improved with availability across
large multi-system operators (MSOs)
and four key direct-to-home (DTH)
A key differentiator for Max2 has
been that it has a large sprinkling of
female audience unlike the Hindi movie
genre, which is male skewed. “It is
against the grain of a regular movie
channel which is male skewed,” Vyas
pointed out.

MSM plans to launch HD version of Sony Max

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  1. it will be better than Star Gold HD

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