Hallmark going the subscription route to grow

MUMBAI: This is surely a first of a kind move on Indian television. English general entertainment channel Hallmark has decided to do away with advertisements completely and rely only on subscription.

Speaking to this afternoon Hallmark India GM Amitabh said that the decision had been taken earlier this year not just for India but also for the Asia Pacific region. "This is one way we can differentiate ourselves. Viewers will hopefully stay longer with us as they see films and shows without a break. At the same time other channels are in a rush to attract advertisers. We are targetting a 15 per cent growth in revenue this year. One has to keep in mind the fact that the Cas mess set us back quite a bit on the subscription front."

It must be noted that Hallmark never had many ads to begin with. In the not too distant past during each break this writer does not remember seeing more than three ads at a time. So while it is certainly a unique move one doubts as to whether not taking ads will make much difference in India at least.

Amitabh further added that Hallmark would stay on the Modi platform. While a few channels in the past had jumped ship he denied that it had affected distribution efforts. The price of the channel will stay the same.

As far as content is concerned Amitabh said that the channel would be building up its comedy repertoire with Bewitched. The show will air every Tuesday at 4 pm from 15 June.

The show deals with a young married woman who is in a tug of war situation. On the one hand her witchy mother keeps haressing her to return to her witcherly ways. The mother is a witch of the old school who doesn't go for any universality between mortals and her world. On the other hand the woman loves her family.

Should Samantha give up witchcraft completely for a whole year--no tricks at all -- she could become a mortal herself. It may be recalled that Sony's local version of the show Meri Biwi Wonderful sank without a trace. One can only hope that viewers will be more involved with the original.

Hallmark is certainly trying to get in more variety into its programme line up and not merely rely on the sentimental stuff. In July it will start airing the gritty crime series The District. Despite having over 30 law enforcement agencies, Washington DC still has the highest crime rate in the US. With politics and indifference being a large factor in this, the city hires Newark PD Chief Jack Mannion played by Craig T. Nelson.

The movie-quoting, lounge-singing former NYPD transit cop claims he can and has successfully in the past cut a city's crime rate in half with his get-with-it-or-report-to-meter-maid-duty attitude. Nelson's character takes over as commissioner of the DC Police.

One thing that Hallmark will not be doing is going the dubbing route like AXN and HBO. As Amitabh pointed out dubbing makes more sense for action oriented fare. There the sound and visual effects take precedence over dialogue and character.

Watch this space for more news on the channel.

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