AXN looking to cement brand loyalty with critically acclaimed 'Alias'

MUMBAI: AXN's action plan to maintain and increase channel share is simple. Build up viewer loyalty by exposing viewers to fresh and invigorating programming genres that they cannot get elsewhere. Towards this end, the channel will launch Alias next month exclusively in India.

On hand to explain the programming strategy at a media briefing was Gregory Ho, AXN Asia V-P marketing. Said Ho: "AXN's brand values are adventurous, daring and irreverent though the last one is not in the dictionary sense of the term. We are not serious in tone like CNN. We also don't aim to educate like Discovery or National Geographic. Our aim is to add panache and pizzazz without which peoples' lives would be boring. AXN is a place where the viewer can escape the humdrum routine of everyday existence. Unlike broadcast veterans we are upstarts who feel the need to build a certain kind of lifestyle where one can chill out."

On the advertising front, Ho noted that although last year was tough, this year the situation was improving with some clients returning to the channel. After all, Ho reasoned, one can only retreat to a certain extent when the business environment is unfavourable. If a company goes back too much then it risks losing out on market share.

As far as marketing initiatives were concerned, Ho said the channel would look towards the radio as a medium to get the "buzz" across. Though relatively new, the radio medium is fast catching on with upwardly mobile urbanites, he said. Then there is the AXN action movie festival that kicks off on 17 September in Chandigarh. It will travel to 10 cities across the country including Mumbai, sometime in October - November.

Ho stressed that it was the channel's serialised shows and not movies that helped build brand loyalty, as films are essentially title driven. Citing TAM data for the five metros Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore for 1-29 June C&S homes Section A, B in the 15-44 age group, AXN got a market share of around 33 per cent when Guinness World Records aired, he said. The closest rival was HBO with a share between 15-22 per cent. Likewise Ripley's Believe It or Not garnered a share of 28 per cent with closest rival HBO at 13 - 22 per cent. Records' ratings no doubt were helped by the Record Holder contest held by the channel earlier in the year in Mumbai, he added.

The most impressive ratings were however, generated by C.S.I. The show airs every Monday at 9 pm and for the period 30 June to 3 August the all adult share was 38 per cent. With women the share rises to 42 per cent. No other channel for the same time band bagged a share of over 15 per cent. Assistant V-P Sony Rohit Bandhari said that a certain trend was noticeable over the past couple of years on AXN. If a show had an intelligent and intricate storyline then more women tuned in.

Alias should have women tuning in as the central character played by Jennifer Garner deftly dodging stereotypes of the bimbo or the quintessentially dumb blonde displays a vulnerable emotional side, which is easy to relate to. In January Garner won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Sydney Bristow, a seemingly average woman who in reality lives a double life working for a spy agency with an anti-government agenda. Besides possessing a useful knowledge in martial arts she also speaks foreign languages like Japanese. 'Alias' was one of only three shows which had unrestricted access to the CIA and its resources. The show has received 11 Emmy nominations. In Asia the show is launching exclusively in India every Monday from 2 September at 8 pm in the Prime Zone band. It will replace C.S.I. The show will also repeat on Wednesday's at 10 pm replacing Wolfgang Peterson's The Agency, which will complete its first season on the channel this month. The show managed to attract a share of 26 per cent last month, says Ho.

In other Asian countries Alias will launch next year Ho said.

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