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More money in show biz than ever

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December 29, 2005 08:15 IST

This year, film entertainment alone should end the fiscal with a turnover of $6 billion. Not only will the industry grow by over 15 per cent but also attract serious money.

There were several big-ticket deals and half-a-dozen IPOs. Adlabs was the first to grab the highlights when Anil Ambani's Reliance Capital bought 51 per cent stake in it. Shringar Films and PVR were the other two film companies to go to the bourses.

UTV and Shringar Films, too, raised money as did Nimbus, which got $40 million. HindustanTimes and Deccan Chronicle also had successful debuts at the stock exchanges.

Many more players like Ramgopal Verma, INOX, Radio Mirchi (Times Group), Jagran and Radio City are expected to tap the capital market soon. By end March 2006, over $1 billion would have come in as fresh equity.

The year, most important filmmakers looked towards either institutional finance or corporate funding. At a recent conference, senior officials from IDBI and Exim Bank talked of increasing their exposure in the sector.

With several other banks like Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, and even the fledgling Yes Bank jumping into the fray, money should be in abundant supply in the coming year.

Adlabs, UTV, INOX, PVR, Shringar, Nimbus are all flush with funds and others like Yashraj and Dharma are in any case well-funded.

Hollywood majors like Sony, Disney and Warner are keen to get active in Bollywood. There is a lot of activity happening down South also with companies like Suresh Productions, GV Films, Padmalaya and Radan too walking the same route.

Why this sudden expansion? The most obvious is that although there are just about 100 multiplexes at present, they are contributing substantial chunks to the box-office.

According to a Yes Bank-Film &TV Guild report, the top 50 Bollywood films will earn 70 per cent of their domestic theatre collections from multiplexes. Since India will be adding another 500 screens in the next 18 months, the film industry has a lot to look forward too.

The second trigger is the overseas market boom. The third is the emergence of multiple revenue streams and importantly film producers monetising them. The fourth is better marketing and generally a more professional approach. To top it all, consumer-spend on entertainment is rising.

The TV advertising pie too has grown to over $1 billion this year. Subscription revenue is rising, albeit slowly. DTH is finally happening and IPTV is round the corner. KBC returned with Amitabh Bachchan on Star.

Sony successfully experimented with international formats - Indian Idol, Fame Gurukul and Deal Ya No Deal. Even Zee tried getting into the act with a souped-up version of the old favourite SA RE GA MA and game show Kam Ya Zyaada.

Star successfully positioned Star One as a young market channel. Ekta Kapoor dominated again with her K factor. The South and East maintained status quo in viewership and programming.

So this New Year, consumers will have more entertainment options and platform choices. For the entertainers, it's just the beginning of the roll .The applause and bank balance can only get bigger!

Amit Khanna is Chairman of Reliance Entertainment and the views expressed are his own
Amit Khanna