AXN looks at building familiarity of shows with viewers

MUMBAI: Just days after announcing a multi-year television content deal with CBS Studios and AXN India, MSM English cluster head Saurabh Yagnik while speaking to says that building familiarity of exclusive shows with viewers has been a key challenge for AXN.

“Viewers of the genre, many times are unaware when premiere shows are being telecast on television and therefore there is a principal need to build the familiarity of those programmes for our viewers,” Yagnik informs.

To address the challenge, the channel has adopted a two point strategy. One, by investing in exclusive new shows starring well known Hollywood names; and two, by introducing a new permanent weekend slot called Not so Ordinary Weekends during which these new shows will be telecast.  “The slot is aimed primarily at younger audiences who want something different,” he adds.

AXN’s new weekend lineup includes fresh shows like Extant, starring Academy Award winner Halle Berry; Penny Dreadful, starring Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton along with bond girl Eva Green and science fiction show Falling Skies produced by Steven Speilberg. “The famous names associated with these US series are already known to Indian audiences which will be of help. The biggest consumption problem arises when viewers are not familiar with the content,” opines Yagnik.

While Extant will premiere on 8 August and will be aired every Friday at 10 pm, Penny Dreadful and Falling Skies will hit the television screens on 9 August with its telecast scheduled for every Saturday at 10 pm and 11 pm respectively. These shows have been produced by CBS Studios International. Apart from these, the channel will have access to existing series like Hawaii Five 0 and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as well as new programmes the Studio will create during the term of the deal.

Sources say that such multi-year content deals are usually for a period of three to five years. For Yagnik, joining hands with CBS made sense since it could aid AXN with its deep library.

To promote these shows and the slot, the channel ran a 16 day digital campaign on Twitter and Facebook, where during contests, fans were invited to post selfies that were not mundane but extraordinary. “To add to the familiarity, we seek to reach out to the youngsters online through quality interaction,” Yagnik says. At the end of the contest, winners were declared online.

Promotions on-air include three creatives. While one informs viewers how the channel hopes to make their ordinary weekends extraordinary through the slot, the second and third one are promos of Extant and Penny Dreadful respectively. These three creatives are being telecast on all the channels of MSM network as well as on its digital platforms including YouTube. The channel will also air the ads on Radio One in Delhi and Mumbai. As part of the outdoor campaign, bus wraps are being used in Mumbai alone.

Talking about the best performing markets for AXN, Yagnik informs that Kolkata and Delhi are some of the metros that have been performing well for the channel as well as other tier II and tier III towns. “Kerala and Uttar Pradesh are doing quite well too”, he adds.

“Our market share in the category is 24 per cent to 25 per cent while our reach during a nine week average is 2.8 million every week,” he says.

Media planners meanwhile feel that it is too early to comment on the fate of such fresh new line up. “The new weekend slot adds some punch to the channel. Also the shows could do well because of the names associated with it which Indians are familiar with,” opines a media planner requesting anonymity.

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