Television

HBO wins plaudits in Asia; takes website to a new level

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For the second successive year movie channel HBO has done well in Television Asia's regional survey. Fans from India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong responded enthusiastically.

Some categories where HBO was the top dog include Programming, Sales and Marketing, Viewer Feedback and Most Popular Channel. HBO was runner up in Best On-Air Look and came in third in Best Value for Money.

President and CEO, HBO Asia, Dan Murrell had these remarks to make: "We are very pleased and honoured to once again be recognized No.1 by the industry. As the premium movie channel in the region, we will continue to work towards creating and delivering even more value to all our viewers and partners".

In America, meanwhile, the channel is pulling out all the stops in a bid to connect with its viewer base. On hbo.com fans of OZ, a series which runs in America, can take a 360-Degree Virtual Tour through 'Virtual OZ'.

The series examines the lives of the correctional officers and inmates at the Oswald State Correctional Facility which is a maximum-security prison. Film director Barry Levinson (Rainman) is one of the executive producers. The ensemble cast includes Ernie Hudson (Congo), Terry Kinney (Sleepers), Dean Winters and Kirk Acevedo.

It offers a 'First Look' at the prison set part of the OZ Web Site which has been redesigned. Viewers will be shaken up by the harsh difficulties prisoners have to face at the correctional facility.

HBO.com started five years ago. It is created and produced by Home Box Office, the premium television programming division of Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P. HBO has exclusive licensing deals with Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment (Columbia/ TriStar), Universal and Warner Bros (including New Line Cinema).

Site visitors can "walk" in a virtual world through the penitentiary by using Apple Quicktime VR, Flash 5.0. They will also be enthralled by three dimensional animation features. They can explore the halls of the experimental "Em City" and experience the intense loneliness of solitary confinement.

All this is a clear attempt on the part of the channel to build up expectation before the series' fifth season which starts on 6 January 2002 at 10pm ET on the channel.

Virtual OZ will also offer 40 360-degree photos and what the channel terms as "hot spots" that provide information and audio clips. This is aimed at familiarising viewers with the role that the locations they visit played during past episodes.

The information and audio clips will also delve into details about the characteristics of each OZ area and provide insight on past events at that particular location.

Another new site area is "Behind OZ,". This aims at educating viewers about how the series was made. Cast and crew members will talk about their experiences making the series.

There will also be an exclusive "sneak peek" slide show of the upcoming fifth season. "Question of The Week" contests will bestow winners with OZ merchandise. A television schedule along with an episode guide will also be on display. OZ also has a newsletter and if fans can sign up receive for show and cast information.

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