Bollywood hit for six by pay TV

06 May 2009

MUMBAI: As if Bollywood producers didn't have enough to worry about with a glut of movies commissioned in the boom times of 2007 and 2008 waiting to be released and falling pay-tv prices, Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket is now pinching its audience in one of its peak holiday seasons.

The IPL is still pulling in huge TV audiences for its 20/20 competition even though the tournament has been moved to South Africa from India because of security fears and the protracted Indian elections.

Pay-tv operators, among Bollywood's biggest customers alongside the rash of new multiplex cinemas, have slashed their prices for films because of falling advertising and sponsorship revenue in the downturn as well as cricket-watching absentees.

In recent years, overseas companies including Viacom, Disney and Time Warner have piled into the industry, which at its peak was making more than 1,000 films a year. These companies were attracted by annual box office increases of 15% in the three years to the end of the boom in 2008. This compareds to a comparable rate in the US of just 2%.

But costs have risen sharply, with Bollywood's top performers enjoying huge increases and talent costs (actors and actresses' pay) amounting to more than 50% of an average film.

To add insult to injury, the biggest ‘Indian' film in India over the past six months has been Slumdog Millionaire, the Oscar-winning UK production set in, inevitably, Mumbai.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff.