"Fear Factor has been an unqualified success on AXN Asia" : Todd Miller Asia Managing Director of AXN

"As far as 2002 is concerned, we are very confident and very well positioned. We have had strong distribution growth of 46 per cent in the last year and our viewership has grown 35 per cent which gives us a more than compelling story for advertisers" - thus spake AXN Asia managing director Todd Miller in an interview to‘ in December 2001.

The channel‘s performance in the first half of the year has more or less borne out his prediction with AXN introducing several new shows and promising to bring in even more before the year is out. He answered‘s Aparna Joshi‘s queries about the path the channel is taking and the direction in which it is headed?...

How many of AXN‘s new programmes slated to launch in 2002 are yet to take off?

This year, AXN has already launched an unprecedented 15 shows, which underscores our commitment to providing viewers in India with the world‘s best action/adventure entertainment. Since February, we have launched these 15 series: Fear Factor; Scariest Places on Earth; Guiness World Records: Primetime; The Amazing Race season II; Andromeda; Farscape season III; No Boundaries; CSI Season II; The Agency; Relic Hunter Season II; Queen of Swords; The Outer Limits; Motorworld; Rated X (new entertainment magazine show); Eco Challenge New Zealand. There will be much more programming action to come in the second half of 2002, including more blockbuster movies and five brand-new first-run series in September, premiering exclusively on AXN.

What is the gender break up of AXN India‘s viewership? Is it tilting in favour of women?

Generally, AXN appeals to an "attitudinally 20-something" audience. The majority of our Indian viewers are aged 15 - 44; 60 per cent are men and 40 per cent are women. This male/female ratio is a consistent pattern across all of AXN‘s Asian feeds. What is also consistent is the potent mixture of action, reality, escapism, daring and irreverence, which appeals to both men and women.

AXN executives had said recently that animation series on the channel do not strike a chord with Indian audiences, chiefly because the shows target the 15-21 year age group. In India, however, animation is perceived to be meant for those in the five to 10 age bracket. Which animation series is currently on air on AXN and what is its future? Do you plan to introduce any new ones, or will you scrap the genre for India?

Our Indian programming efforts are focused on the four pillars which have highest and broadest appeal: movies, series, adventure reality, and lifestyle sports. Action animation also has a loyal but niche following in India, and to cater to this audience AXN will continue to program some hot animated series which are favourites inside and beyond Japan, such as the Japanese title Dual, which is currently on-air. Excalibur, an exciting CGI fantasy series, will be broadcast from July.

One of the channel‘s major properties for the year was supposed to be the World Stunt Awards, scheduled to take place on 19 May in the US. Is it being developed by the channel in conjunction with US network ABC? When will it be telecast and how will it be promoted?

The World Stunt Awards will premiere in India on July 26, exclusively on AXN. This is a global AXN property and a star-studded event, which celebrates the best movie action stunts, and the people who do them, from around the world. We are developing a fun and clever on-air campaign, which will break in a couple weeks. Arnold Schwarzenegger makes an unbelievable entrance to this Awards ceremony.

"Action animation also has a loyal but niche following in India, and to cater to this audience, AXN will continue to program some hot animated series"

It was also being said that the channel would continue building the brand through alliances with action-oriented movies released in theatres. Which are the films currently being pushed by AXN? Which other mega movies after Crouching Tiger?. are you planning?

AXN‘s dedication to bringing the best action movies is unwavering. This July, for example, AXN Asia will bring the TV premiere of the critically acclaimed Shadow of the Vampire starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe, and from Hong Kong, Time and Tide, as part of the Asian Cinema movie special.

How did the multi discipline adventure races go? Has it helped audience profile of the channel?

The Hong Kong AXN Challenge and the Eco Challenge are both AXN properties. The Hong Kong AXN Challenge fielded 62 teams from six countries and Team India, comprising the Navy‘s Cmdr Siddarth Panday and Leading Seaman Vijay Dahiya performed admirably. Team India came in first in the Dares Challenge and third overall in the adventure race. This one-hour special will be broadcast in July.

Eco Challenge New Zealand that premiered on AXN last month fielded six teams from four Asian nations. AXN Asia sponsored teams from Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan. It‘s too early to have ratings yet, but Eco Challenge definitely helps AXN‘s audience profile by catering to our "attitudinally 20-something" target viewer. We‘re also hoping that the Eco-Challenge broadcast will inspire an Indian team to compete in this race.

How do you rate the performances of Survivor, Amazing Race which completed their run in January?

Both The Amazing Race and Survivor are very strong properties with loyal following among Asian viewers. The Amazing Race, in particularly, generates very strong positive feedback across AXN‘s footprint, including India. The first season of The Amazing Race included a leg in India, passing through Delhi and Agra. Both seasons have included Asia on the round-the-world itinerary.

How about Fear Factor - considering the opposition it has drawn in other countries?

Fear Factor has been an unqualified success on AXN Asia. In all measured markets, including India, Fear Factor has been one of AXN‘s most popular shows, because it compels ordinary people to confront their worst fears in extraordinary? we can‘t wait to broadcast the second season later this year.

The second season of Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) started on 1 April. How is CSI doing rating wise?

Among affluent adults, a top show. CSI is also the top-rated drama in the US, taking over the title of "#1 Drama on Television" in only its second season on air. We expect CSI to have a long life on AXN Asia.

Do action series and action animation remain one of the main pillars of programming in India? Are action movies, action series and action adventure-reality still AXN‘s principal programming pillars for AXN India?

AXN India‘s core programming pillars remain. Among the English-language channels, AXN is the only broadcaster to deliver a unique mix of movies, series, reality, and lifestyle adventure entertainment.

"We‘re hoping that the Eco-Challenge broadcast will inspire an Indian team to compete in this race"

When do you expect to reach break-even status, 2004-2005, or will it be earlier?

We‘re still on plan.

How many homes does AXN reach currently in Asia, and in India?

Currently AXN is seen in over 70 million Asian households. In India, we reach over 21.6 million homes.


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