Television

HBO looks to increase viewership base with 'Big One' programme block

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MUMBAI: Think movies! Think big! Think HBO! That is the message HBO is looking to get across to the viewer when it kicks off its new programme block The Big One this month. During each quarter, at least one movie will be shown in the block.

 

For the first quarter that movie is Spiderman. The film airs on 30 January at 9 pm. On the corporate side Shruti Bajpai who used to be HBO's marketing director South Asia has been promoted to HBO South Asia country manager. Speaking on the initiative Bajpai said, "Spiderman was one of the biggest theatrical releases in India and worldwide. The films that we will showcase in The Big One slot have done enormously well both critically and commercially. Spiderman is also keeping with our tradition of releasing a big movie in January.



"In 2002 it was The Mummy and in 2003 we had Mission Impossible II. Looking ahead we will be showcasing some of the biggest movies from last year over the next couple of years. Together they have earned around 70 per cent of the worldwide box office revenues. When we talk about building up quality partnerships, we mean it. "



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In February, its big blockbuster is The Scorpion King with wrestler The Rock. Another film is Training Day for which Denzel Washington won an Oscar. In terms of original content, the channel will continue to showcase its own award winning movies like The Gathering Storm, Live From Baghdad as well as Mira Nair's Hysterical Blindness. The channel is also considering bringing in another high value quality show besides Sex And The City.



"The show has held up extremely well since its launch. That is the test of any show and so the second season will commence this year. It has been in the top 10 for English general entertainment shows. It has bettered expectations in terms of the average ratings it got." Bajpai said.



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It's Oscar time next month. To celebrate the mood, the channel will have the block From The Greatest To The Latest. Every weekday at 9 pm an Oscar winner and nominee will be showcased back to back like Ben Hur and The Grinch. The films will get more and more new as 29 February approaches which is when the Oscars will be handed out, while ironically, the rights to telecast the show live have been bagged by arch rival Star Movies. Another theme will be The Rise of The Machines. The block will showcase Arnold Schwarzenegger. In March for the International Women's Day, the channel will showcase the best work that actresses have done for Hollywood.



Maintaining that 2003 was a good year for the channel, Bajpai said that December saw 11 of the top 15 movies coming from the HBO stable. This was when it ran the Best of 2003 block. For the prime time 9-11 pm slot, its share was 42 per cent. AXN, Zee MGM, Hallmark and Star Movies shared the rest. Bajpai claims that primetime share was also highest when you took into account other niche channels like Discovery and Cartoon Network.



She points out that there had been a great deal of innovation in terms of targeting viewers. " We were the first English movie channel to create a special block for youth which was HBO Generation Me. Our themes got bigger and better. Our Summer Action Marathon gave us a higher channel share than the competition. We were also able to expand our viewer base with the HBO Filmmaker series. That catered to the discerning viewer."

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