It looked like any other fax message lying on my table, one working day in end-December last year. There was nothing unusual or attractive about it. On closer scrutiny however, I found that the message was an invite to attend a function organised by Balaji Telefilms, a company floated by Bollywood heart throb of yesteryears, Jeetendra and his glamorous daughter, Ekta. The function was a press conference to announce the fact that Balaji Telefilms was foraying into "event programming".
Balaji Telefilms has not been the first to do so. With the plethora of television channels in the country, programming houses have been on the rise. What is new, however, is the trend of these high-flying programming houses to venture into the arena of programming for events, a task hitherto handled by a cluster of event-management companies.
Earlier, media mogul, Mr. Subhash Chandra, had already entered this segment through group companies, Zee Event and Zee Telefilms. They recently managed a music awards ceremony for which the former managed the event and the latter did the programming.
Australian media mogul, Mr. Kerry Packer, had his company Channel 9 tie up with state-owned television channel, Doordarshan, to telecast a special event, where leading Bollywood heroines were asked to dance to songs of the dancing queen of yesteryears, Helen. This was an event that took the television ratings of the state-owned channel to dizzying heights.
While event management companies like Wizcraft Entertainment, GS Entertainment, J&M Events, DNA Networks, Cineyug, Fountainhead, Showbiz and Showtime have been around for some time, the entry of leading software programming houses into this segment is a recent trend.
Why the big rush?
So why is there such a big rush for event management? Is it because there is big business potential? The answer is a big YES!
A very nascent segment of big ticket entertainment business, the live entertainment and event management industry has the potential to gross more than Rs 3,350 crore in less than five years from now, says a report prepared by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Almost a decade ago the industry was estimated at only Rs.20 crore in size, but has grown to become a Rs.200 - 250 crore industry today.
It continues to grow exponentially, with increasing number of companies coming forward to sponsor events, shows and programs. Points out Mr. Jitendra Mirwani of J&M Event, "At last event management has come to be recognised as an industry by companies and individuals alike. The dynamics of organising an event are so high that people have begun investing in it."
Says Mr. B. R. Jaju, executive president finance, who has been asked to overlook Zee Events division, "The whole dimension of events will undergo a change. Event programming helps us to improve content quality and generate additional viewership. This activity remains a major focus area for the company."
Adds Ms. Gopi Shah, general manager-events, Zee Network, "Organising and successfully managing large programs and events enables us to not only improve upon our TRP ratings but also in keeping in touch with the film industry." So bullish is Zee on events that it has established a separate division, Zee Events, to work on not only programming but also on the physical part of managing events. It has transferred Ms. Shah, who was earlier in London managing the network's UK operations, to India to manage the division.
Added Ms. Shah, "I have come in to plan and create events for various Zee Network channels, which will enable us to increase company's revenues." She further said that handling the physical part of events helps the company to not only save on costs but also exercise better control on the show. Zee, since 1998, has been organising important and very popular events and programs such as the Zee Cine Awards and Zee IMI - Sangeet Awards among others.
The network is gearing up to organise at least one mega event every month, if not more, exclusively for its channels. The division is already contributing about 20 per cent to the revenues of Zee Telefilms.
Due to increased globalisation, the number of international performers visiting India to promote their albums and films has increased. Big and small companies in India also view such events as means of reaching out to large and selected audience and promote their products. In recent years, with the increase in the number of satellite channels, the awareness and interest in international and domestic artists has got enhanced, resulting in rapid growth in live entertainment and event management industry. There has been a flurry of activity, and event management agencies are mushrooming.
Advertising and marketing opportunities have opened up for event management companies, primarily as a result of satellite channels increasing awareness of the various events being held within the country.
Event management companies involve themselves in the planning, organising and execution of an event, which could include a product or a brand launch, an exhibition, a concert or even a conference. Events are basically an extended form of advertising, allowing brands to associate directly with the consumer. Says Mr. Mirwani of J&M Events, "It is a form of interactive advertising. There is a very clear trend of promoting products and brands through live events."
This novel way of packaging entertainment has its roots firmly embedded in advertising and public relations. Corporate houses consider sponsoring events featuring popular artists as a means of reaching their target consumers.
Therefore corporate sponsorship of events to promote products has also seen a big spurt. A recent trend amongst multinational companies, especially the fast moving consumer goods companies entering India, is to promote their products through a tailor made event. In 1998 Coca-Cola alone sponsored 70 music related events across the country. Suffice to say that this industry is primed for a big boom in corporate sponsorship. Reasons Mr. Mirwani, " Advertising through live events creates an instant response in the audience and hits the target immediately."
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