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India now a focus market for Animax

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MUMBAI: Until now India was not as important a market for Sony Pictures Entertainment's (SPE) anime channel Animax and that reflected in its poor and negligible ratings. But now, with the repositioning of Animax Asia, which took place on 1 June, 2006, the network will be pushing it in India will renewed vigour.

Animax Asia has been repositioned as a lifestyle channel for the youth and will target the age group of 15 - 24-year-olds. One of the reasons for this shift was the fact that animation from Japan was moving towards a more youth-driven demographic. Hence, keeping with the pace of change, Animax too was repositioned.

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com, SPE Networks Asia vice president Animax programming and production Betty Tsui says, "In the last couple of years, we were not very focused on the Indian market because we underestimated the Indian youth's consumption of animation. Our focus initially was on the kids' but now we will be targeting the youth and the Indian market with renewed focus."

"We are not a kids' channel and we're not competing with the likes of Cartoon Network and Pogo. Animax will be creating a category of its own. We are not followers. Animax will be charting out its own path," she adds.

Apart from the re-positioning, Tsui also informed that Animax will also be looking at targeting the youth with the gaming and mobile platforms. "We will be connecting with the youth not only with animation but also with gaming and mobile. However, it is still too early to talk about it," she says.

Animax is also undertaking an extensive lifestyle survey of their target audience in order to understand what's important to them and where they get their messages from. Once the results of the survey are out, the channel will be analyzing the responses received and accordingly bring about changes in the channel and its promotions.

Queried whether the channel was looking at going totally Hindi, unlike the Hinglish feed that it has now, Tsui says, "One of the questions in the lifestyle survey that we will be conducting will be Animax's language preference of our target audience. Based on the results, we will take the necessary changes. South Indian languages may also be a possibility as we are open to everything."

The channel has streamlined its programme structure to target the youth segment and has also introduced an on-air creative campaign - Imagine Nation - to capture the minds of the youth. Imagine-Nation features popular personalities that are connected to the creative world of games, film, anime and design from the Asian region to share with viewers their success stories, aspirations and passion for their work. For starters, F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan and Indian Idol 2 winner Sandeep Acharya will be featured on this from India.

"We will be featuring people who are successful but not necessarily in the conventional sense of the term. Our aim is to inspire our viewers to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be," says Tsui.

The programming line up will be spruced up with popular anime that have garnered massive followings in Japan and around the world. Animax features programmes of various genres, from action (Blood+, Trinity Blood) to sci-fi (Ghost in the Shell), romance (Paradise Kiss and Honey & Clover) to drama (Black Jack, Jigoku Shojo), and also favorites like (Dragon Ball).

A new integrated brand campaign in India will also be rolled out in a couple of weeks.

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