Max to create new time bands, plans brand campaign

NEW DELHI: After having made some aggressive forays to come at par with competition, SET Max, the Hindi movie-cricket hybrid channel, now is on a consolidation phase through a multi-pronged strategy envisaging big ticket movie acquisition, building up Sundays as a time band and snazzy packaging backed by aggressive marketing activities.

Also on the anvil is the unveiling of a `refreshed' brand campaign for SET Max towards the end of this month. This promo film too will revolve round the channel's mantra, `deewana bana de,' and will be followed in May by the premier of the Hindi-dubbed Spiderman.

"The last one year has been good for us. More so, because we managed to come from behind and today are a notch ahead of competition (that is primarily Zee Cinema)," SET Max business head Albert Almeida told today, categorically pointing out that sustaining the lead and building on it would be the focus for the new financial year, which started today.

According to Almeida, the channel has embarked on a game plan to create new time bands for movie viewing, which has been bringing in viewership from non-metro and smaller towns and cities. Such viewers, on an average, spend more time on the channel than their metro-centric counterparts, he added.

For Sundays, SET Max is looking at a mix of films that can be viewed by the whole family, while for the afternoon band, primarily watched by an average Indian housewife in non-metro cities, family and romantic films would be lined up.

"This sort of differentiation needs to be done as we have seen viewership keeps on changing from one time band to another. That's why, for Sunday, which we are looking to build up in a big way now, will have movies appealing to everybody in the family," Almeida said.

As part of the Hindi dubbed films, SET Max is looking at acquiring more recent films from the Columbia TriStar library as well as from other Hollywood studios. The type of films that would find favour traditionally fall in the action and sci-fi genre.

Pointing out typical examples of Hollywood Hungama will include films like Spiderman and Anaconda, Almeida said, "The aim is to give the non-metro viewers films that would generally not be made in Bollywood. When dubbed in Hindi, such films do attract a sizeable viewership, which is worth nurturing."

However, when asked about the financial aspects of the whole game plan for SET Max, Almeida demurred from extending details, saying, "The bottomline looks healthy and Max's share of contribution to the kitty has increased over the previous year(s)."

In 2006, when Sony's cricket properties come into action, Almeida feels packaging will play an important role. Though he sidestepped a question on programming and distribution synergy between Max and ten Sports, now part of the One Alliance bouquet, Almeida did admit that "such things could be looked into, especially by the distribution team."

Sony Entertainment had launched its second channel, SET Max, in the Indian market in 1999 and started with the telecast of the one-day cricket series being played out in Sharjah between Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the West Indies then. Events, cricket and Hindi movies were said to be the highlights of SET Max that is still being followed and built up.

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