AXN, Animax to go mobile

MUMBAI: While the question of whether people will use the mobile to view entire episodes of television shows is still in the air one thing that channels are realising is that the mobile phone is a bloody effective promotional tool especially when targeting the teenage segment.

Keeping this in mind AXN and Animax will both venture into the wireless area to promote shows. First off the blocks is AXN. The channel recently bought the mobile rights for one of its most popular shows CSI.

Speaking to this afternoon at the sidelines of a media briefing AXN Asia VP marketing and creative services Gregory Ho said, "We are talking to a mobile content distributor and hope to finalise the deal next month.

"Basically the service will offer downloads like ringtones, wallpaper, screensavers. We will see what the response this and then take a decision as to whether we will do a similar initiative for our other shows like 24.

"The thing is that since we do not own these shows acquiring the rights is expensive. In fact Animax will use the mobile in a greater way next year. That is because we have created our own set of vignettes featuring original characters Quu and Tee. These are two fun loving characters from another universe. They have come to earth looking to have a good time."

Ho went on to explain that while Tee is nimble and agile. Quu is slower but has magical powers. Right now three 50 second vignettes featuring these two characters are airing. "We will shortly expand this to eight. When the characters grow in popularity we will look at taking them mobile in the form of ringtones, wallpaper etc.

"Our hope is to make a television series out of these two characters. This will give us opportunities in the licensing and merchandising area perhaps a couple of years from now"

Ho was however quick to clarify that the company has no plans of doing the merchandise itself. "We will license the characters for a fee to a third party for products like videos, toys, books. It makes no sense for us to get into the retail business as that would distract us from our core business - television. In fact Disney recently shut down most of its retail storews in America. Retailing is a complex business and it is always better for experts to handle that area."

While admitting that Animax was a little ahead of its time in India and that it is behind Pogo and Nickelodeon Ho expressed confidence that Japanimation would find favour among viewers. He claimed that it is available in 12 million homes in India.

The channel will be conducting a promotional initiative in 100 schools across the major Metros from 29 November. "The school initiative is a watch and win contest. Apart from prizes the school that sends in the most entries will be paid a special visit by Animax's brand ambassador Irfan Pathan. Pathan will then give the kids a pep talk."

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