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Guest Column: English content consumption showed upward trend in 2016

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Consumption of English content continued to show growing trends during the year 2016 and the momentum is expected to be sustained this year as well.  An interesting and encouraging trend was the continual surge in Hollywood box office collections in India as compared to previous years. This reflects the growing affinity of Indian audience towards English content. There has also been substantial growth in social media conversations on Hollywood and other English content and expect the trend to continue in a big way in 2017.

Coming to Hollywood movie channels, the key to success is to have a strong pipeline of premieres and library films. This is at the core of our business and a big reason why we invested aggressively to get the best content for our viewers. The tie up with NBC Universal enhanced our programming with blockbuster films and franchises like Jurassic World, Fast& Furious, Minions, Steve Jobs, Straight Outta Compton, Jason Bourne, Sing and Secret Life of Pets to name a few. We have also extended the PIX Brand to the South Asian markets.

public://Sherlock_s4_ep1_006 (1).jpgOur market research indicated that the audiences are segmenting into two parts. One that loves mainstream cinema. The second is that loves good cinema, irrespective of the fact it being mainstream or not. We capitalised on this opportunity with launch of our new movie channel in 2016 – Sony Le PLEX HD – which brings to its viewers movies that are critically acclaimed and are based on powerful stories and characters. Our objective was to create a differentiated product and present content in a never-seen-before manner, while positioning the channel as a fun hangout for the community of movie lovers who converse around quality cinema. With premieres of Oscar winning film like Spotlight, The Walk, Concussion and other acclaimed movies on the new channel we have opened up an opportunity to consume great cinema for an audience set whose needs were grossly underserved.   

public://raptors_owen_960.pngIn the English general entertainment space we relaunched our flagship channel AXN making it more contemporary and appealing to the audience through the new brand positioning - Live R.E.D. We were able to build strong character and show associations with the channel which was one of the key tasks we had set out to achieve. Our content is highly diverse, which is reality, entertainment and drama – and that is what Live R.E.D stands for. From a viewer gratification perspective, LIVE R.E.D. stands for Rush Excitement and Dream; that is what our shows provide. We have leveraged R.E.D. to define our characters as well. For example, Live Eccentric, Live R.E.D defines Sherlock’s character.

In the general entertainment category, there exists two distinct audience segments. The first set is called the influencer and the other set is called the adopters. While the influencer is an audience who is clued on to the latest shows as and when they are released worldwide, the adopters are those who are easing into the category and would want to consume long running cult shows. Our programming caters to both the audience segments. It consists of new as well as old shows that have been well received by the US audience. For instance, under AXN’s property Fresh from the US, we enable the audience to watch the latest and popular shows closer to the US timeframe like Sherlock, Billions, Orphan Black, Bull, Elementary and Supernatural to name a few. Getting to watch new shows on their TV sets will certainly discourage the viewers from downloading content and help curb piracy.

public://Benedict-Cumberbatch-and-Martin-Freeman-in-Sherlock-Season-4-Episode-2.jpg2017 is going to be a year where we will consolidate the gains from our investments of the previous year. Our programming strategy is likely to remain consistent with the previous year and we don’t foresee significant changes in the audience behaviour or need.

Maintaining our loyal fan base along with targeting fresh consumers is another task at hand and I am sure we will execute it well. We have a lot of exciting content in store for the year 2017 across channels as we strive to bring the best of Hollywood to our viewers. And we start all of this with the much awaited premiere of Sherlock season 4 on AXN.

public://Saurabh-Yagnik-800x800.jpg (The writer is EVP and Business Head, English Cluster, Sony Pictures Networks, India. Views expressed in this article are personal and Indiantelevision.com need not necessarily subscribe to them.)

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