Television

Sony Le Plex HD launches; destination for acclaimed & blockbuster movie titles

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MUMBAI: Movie buffs are in for a treat as folks at Sony Pictures Network India (SPN) have come up with a premium fun hangout place for Hollywood film lovers. Called Sony Le Plex HD, the channel will be a house to not just from mainstream Hollywood movies but also acclaimed movies. With the brand tagline #WhereYouBelong, the channel is aimed at providing true plex experience on television.

The channel went live on 23 August.

SPN already has a English movie channel Sony Pix. After a 3-4 month long research, the network saw a clear need gap wherein the viewers were underserved with acclaimed movie titles. The differentiator amongst the two channels apart from their unique product packaging is unique content properties providing a clear audience demarcation between the two.

According to SPN India English cluster EVP and business head Saurabh Yagnik, what lacks in the industry is clear distinctions between Hollywood loyalists and casonava. He says, “The two channels have different boundaries true to the consumers need gap. As viewers were not able to watch their loved movies, we thought about coming out with a perfect solution. Building a channel is not just about great titles. There also is a need to build conversations around the product so as to build a brand in mind.”

Apart from securing deals with existing production studios, this new channel has first output deals with Sony Pictures, Universal Studios, PVR and Lionsgate.

Sony Le PLEX boasts of 400 plus movie titles that include 200 award winning movies. In their Le Premiere slot, one can catch 52 premieres in 52 weeks of the year with one on every Sunday at 9 pm. The other slots of the channel are The Magicians slot which will showcase the movies and the magic that happens behind the camera of critically acclaimed movies such as The Inglourious Basterds, Schindler’s List, Taxi Driver, Gladiator, Philadelphia and many more.

The Noon Show which will air movies every Monday to Friday at 1 pm, 9 o’talk aimed at inspiring conversations through listicles. 12 listicles inspired themes will connect the common elements amongst the uncommon audiences driven by a distinguished anchor. And, other spots like The Night Show and Love That Scene.

“The growth of Hollywood cinema in India has resulted in segmentation of audiences into two distinct categories. One, being the mainstream cinema offering action and special effects movies, while the other is the non-mainstream cinema that focuses on the storyline, plot and the acclaim of the movie. The market for non-mainstream cinema is currently underserved in our country and Sony Le Plex HD aims to cater and own this segment. The channel will not only showcase critically acclaimed films but also build an ambience around them in a way that enables great conversations and will help create a common ground for people to build a community of quality movie lovers,” says Yagnik.

Zoya Akhtar has been roped in as the community ambassador for the Sony Le Plex community. Akhtar will be talking about few premieres and will build the community. The key premieres will have conversations with her. Her role will be to reach out to all movie lovers and build a tribe that appreciates good cinema. Akhtar will also be seen actively engaging with movie buffs across various social media platforms owned by the channel.

“Zoya represents contemporary style of filmmaking and have made beautiful movies. She is relatable with our brand and people look at out for her work. We needed a person who can create communities. She is a movies buff and loves conversation around movies. Her persona and the way we perceive our brand have many things in common,” adds the channel head.

“Great movies and great storytelling is what I constantly chase and this is exactly what Sony Le Plex HD has to offer. It's that perfect space where movie lovers, including me, can interact with each other over their favourite Hollywood movies. Sony Le Plex HD has an exhaustive list of quality and acclaimed films and the top three that come to my mind are Foxcatcher – which is awesome, Spotlight which is an academy award winner and Ex Machina. The channel is not just about showcasing great movies but will also create a community of movie lovers who will drive great conversations around movies. I am glad to be the Community Ambassador for Sony Le Plex HD and co-create this community of people like me who simply love watching good movies. It is indeed the perfect hangout for all movie lovers,” adds Akhtar.

The channel is targeted on Hollywood loyalists which they classify to be dreamers, achievers, geeks, artists, etc and certainly don’t have any age boundaries. It is for premium audiences which are young at heart. The channel’s logo has been designed by MediaLuna while Leo Burnett is their creative agency partner.

SPN rolled out this channel in HD feed because according to them there has been significant price elasticity in country. The audiences are not used to paying for content yet. But the fact that India always works on inflection point between affordability and consumption cannot be neglected. Yagnik opines that SD is about size and scale that you have to build. Its distribution has to be wider which the market needs to support. “There are certain considerations that are to be taken before launching a SD channel. The loyalists can move to SD later on. We had to come up with a differentiator in HD,” adds Yagnik.

With this channel, Sony plans to cater to the 7 million odd HD subscribers in the country.

The channel has almost been rolled out on DTH platforms like Airtel, Tata Sky, etc and cable TV services.

As far as the marketing is concerned, the channel will be marketed extensively in the top 6 metros with various promotions on their own HD network on tv and will leverage print as well as social media to build the channel.

The channel is already in talks with few premium brands to hop on board for the channel and has a separate sales team in place for the same. “Ideally revenue generation from advertisers and subscription should be 50:50. Though, it depends on the various channels as they are bundled with different networks. But, if you talk about Sony Le Plex HD, we would like to generate revenue more from the subscription than advertisers. For now the hybrid business model is working properly for us,” adds Yagnik.

If guesstimations are to be believed, the channel will be priced high due to its unique offering at around Rs 50.

Though, Sony Pix and Sony Le Plex HD will not have same titles, there is a possibility to have simulcasts for a few movies.

With an array of Hollywood movie channels being launched by various networks, one conclusion that we can arrive at is that there is a clear-cut consumption of English content. The increasing number of schools providing English education, high box office collections, social media conversations, etc clearly shows significant potential for English in India.

SPN, with this new addition, has a total of approx 700 movie titles under their umbrella. Looking at the current consumption, the English entertainment genre is only going to grow and expand in the coming years.

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