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AXN India to launch HD feed on 6 April, will stop airing movies
MUMBAI: To offer value-added services to consumers, Multi Screen Media (MSM) is launching a high-definition (HD) feed on 6 April for its English general entertainment channel AXN. As part of the content change, AXN will also stop airing movies.
The schedule of the HD feed will be the same as the SD one.
Pix and AXN executive VP, business head Saurabh Yagnik said that talks are on with distribution platforms. “We are also changing our FPC. The aim is to grow our channel share and enhance AXN’s perception. With digitisation, appointment viewing is growing as opposed to accidental tune-ins.”
The ‘Not So Ordinary Weekend’ programming band, which used to air on Fridays and Saturdays, will now air on Saturdays and Sundays. The latest seasons of shows will air close to the US airdates.
These will include the fourth season of ‘Sherlock’, the third season of ‘Hannibal’, the 11th season of ‘Supernatural’, the ninth and 10th seasons of ‘The Voice’, the third season of ‘Orphan Black’, and the third season of ‘Scorpion’.
This change in schedule means that AXN will no longer air movies. Yagnik said, “People prefer to either catch up on shows or watch the latest seasons on the weekends. The category has now become more amenable to appointment viewing. Digitisation has opened an interesting opportunity for the category. The number of viewers who spend at least 10 minutes a week on the category has grown by 50 per cent.”
The channel will now have a weekday band running from Monday to Friday. It kicks off at 8 pm with shows like ‘Ripley’s’, ‘Wipeout’, etc. The reality television slot, which used to air at 8 pm, is now airing at 9 pm. In this slot, shows like ‘Top Chef’, ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and ‘The Amazing Race’ will air.
The 10 pm slot is where hard-hitting crime thrillers and dramas like ’24’, ‘Elementary’, ‘NCIS’, and ‘CSI’ will air. In fact, the channel will air all the seasons of ’24’ from the first season at 10 pm from 6 April. At 11 pm, edgy content will take centre stage. The channel will kick things off by airing all the seasons of ‘Dexter’ at this time slot starting with the first season. Other shows that will air at this time slot will include ‘Californication’ and ‘Sex and the City’.
“The weekend programming band is aimed at the opinion leaders, the viewers who seek to define trends. At the same time, by bringing back old seasons of iconic and long-running shows from the beginning on the weekday band, we aim to target the adopters. The number of adopters will grow as digitisation spreads in the 1mn+ towns and cities. Because of menu-based system due to digitisation, people are now more familiar with what airs and when,” Yagnik explained.
He noted that the broadcaster has deals with 20 content providers and studios including BBC Worldwide, CBS Studios International, Disney, Endemol and Fremantle. “On average, content acquisition costs in this category have been growing at 10–15 per cent. However, costs have often doubled owing to demand for a certain show. We take prudent calls on content investments. The aim is to make money over a certain period. We do both output deals and packaged deals.”
Digital and print mediums will be used for marketing. In the past, the channel has done things like personalised promos where, for instance, actor Dwayne Johnson urges viewers to watch his show ‘Wake Up Call’. The channel sometimes ties up with movie releases to coincide with the launch of a show. For instance, the cast of ‘Ungli’ were used to push ‘Blue Bloods’.
Yagnik said that one-third of the channel’s marketing budget goes towards social media. “We have over 1.7 million Facebook fans. AXN’s engagement rate is six per cent, which is the highest in the category.”
In terms of offering value-added services, the channel is looking at the possibility of acquiring shows for digital media in future. The expectation is that 4G will help to grow content consumption on digital mediums.
According to Yagnik, the category and the industry have to face two challenges. The first is distribution where broadcasters are still not getting their fair share. The second challenge is online piracy. “Piracy is unfair for everybody, be it content creators, IP rights holders or platforms like us. We pay high licence fees for content. This issue of piracy will have to be addressed. Piracy affects the content creation process. We do policing of the Internet to see where unauthorised displays of shows are happening.”