The battle is on, Star Movies fires the first salvo

MUMBAI: Its only two weeks into the new year and the battle for supremacy in the English movie channel space is already on the boil. Star Movies has fired the first salvo, asserting its dominance.

Quoting Tam data c&s 4+ SEC A,B 5 Metros (excluding Chennai) the channel has stated that its New Year's Eve initiative, the premiere of the Bond film Die Another Day, which aired twice on 31 January 9 pm onwards successfully captured four million viewers.

For the week 26 December 2004 - 1 January 2005 the channel had the top eight movies among English movie channels - HBO, AXN, ZMZ and Hallmark. While the legendary spy flick Die Another Day clicked a rating of 0.82, the monster power of the dinosaur didn't prove as strong as ever. The Lost World on HBO, which aired for the umpteenth time, squeaked at 0.64.

HBO makes an entry at number nine with a 0.34 rating for a Spiderman rerun. AXN is at number 10 with the show 30 Seconds To Fame.

An overview of all India scenario reflects Star on the top with its top five titles. Speaking on the performance Star India senior VP, content and communications Ajay Vidyasagar said, " Inspite of all the hype of going out on New Years' Eve, Star Movies did manage to entice a chunk of its viewers to catch the blockbuster premiere. We had a 70 per cent channel share for that week. And when I say four million viewers tuned in for Die Another Day it means that those many people saw the film for at least five minutes.

"And being a Bond flick the 'stickiness' factor has to be high. Therefore not many people would have switched us off. We also held a contest for Die Another Day across Asia and have so far counted over 400,000 entries. A rejig in our programming strategy in October with The Big Two initiative has started to bear fruit."

Vidyasagar added that each year the channel airs at least 24 new titles that ride on the blockbuster variety. He added that negotiations for Gurindher Chaddha's Bride And Prejudice were still on.

As had been reported last year by Star Movies is targetting a 40 per cent growth in ad revenue for this fiscal. Vidyasagar maintained that most of Star Movies' inventory is sold independent of the other channels including Star World.

It remains to be seen as to what kind of a rejoinder HBO, which had won the Indian Telly Award for Best English Movie Channel last year, offers.

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