The Satellite bonanza – Will it sustain or fizzle out

It is said that the recently released Break ke Baad recovered its investment even before it hit the theaters. Thanks to the new trend of selling off the satellite rights several months prior to the release of the movie, filmmakers have discovered a new way of making sure that they recover their money irrespective of the movie’s fate at the BO.

Let’s analyze how all concerned parties, the producers, the TV channels and the audience gains through this trend.

A big-budgeted, big starrer movie is not supposed to be a flop. But the stakes are too high and huge sums of money are riding on the shoulders of the director and the actors.

Effect on the DVD sales:

A good point of discussion that may come to the fore when we discuss this topic is how the sales of the movie’s DVDs are affected. Come on, if you know the movie is going to be there on TV next month, would you go out of the way to buy that DVD? A Shahrukh/Aamir/Salman starrer … maybe yes. But say a Vivek Oberoy starrer? Most people won’t. Hit movies that have a higher estimate of their DVD sales don’t worry about this. An example in this case is “3 Idiots” which garnered high revenue due to DVD sales regardless of several pirated prints doing the rounds. In fact, even after the repeated TV telecasts of the movie since July 2010, the DVD sales have not dropped significantly as people like to buy good movies’ DVD to add to their collections.

Piracy Killer:

Another positive side-effect of the Satellite bonanza is that it discourages piracy. Piracy is a major problem which kills the business of the movie. Illegally produced “camera prints” and DVDs produced from leaked prints sell like hot cakes near the release of the movie. Selling off the prints to the channel ensures that the producers recover their money and that the public would wait for the movie to be telecast in its original print and high quality instead of hastily going for the purchase or download of an incomplete and hazy-print pirated version of the movie.

Kites telecast on TV

Risk-cover for the producer:

A big-budgeted, big starrer movie is not supposed to be a flop. But the stakes are too high and huge sums of money are riding on the shoulders of the director and the actors. Today nobody wants to be the Raj Kapoor who went into debt when his dream venture “Mera Naam Joker” went belly-up. The producer/director/actor of today is as business-savvy as any corporate-honcho, and they make sure that they get back the multi-million bucks that have been spent on their movie. So, when a “Kites” or a “Guzaarish” flops, they have one less thing to worry about… after all they have already recovered their investments by selling off the satellite rights, music rights, overseas distribution rights, broadband rights .. ad infinitum.

Win-Win Situation for the Channels:

The channels also have a say before they actually buy the movie. They evaluate the movie on the basis of certain parts which are screened for them by the producers. Based on the evaluation of the movie’s quality and the star value, they decide the price they are willing to pay up. No doubt, there is a huge risk involved in this. An example in this case is the satellite rights of the movie “Kites” which were pre-sold for a whopping 20 crores. Had the channel bought the movie rights after the movie was released they would have definitely paid much less. But then again, in case the movie went on to be a success, the prices would have further skyrocketed. Movies garner a regular and guaranteed TRP for them. So while “3 Idiots” got a record TRP for its TV premiere on Sony TV, other movies like “Jab We Met”, “Welcome” and even “Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani” are a safe weekend bet. One can just call it investing in the future – sow once, reap always. Once the rights are with a particular channel group, it can telecast it on any of their channel, any number of times and grab high number of eyeballs.


The TV Satellite Bonanza is only set to get bigger. With the unorganized subscription model which exists at present, TV channels can hope to recover money only from the advertisements. However, as the trend and technology picks up and the sector becomes more organized and regularized, and as CAS and DTH penetrate, the movie on demand model will surely be a hit.

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