HBO lays claim to number one English movie channel status

MUMBAI: The war in the English movie channel arena is heating up. HBO, positioning itself as the world's greatest Hollywood movie channel, claims to have emerged as the number one English movie channel this year.

Quoting Tam data for the period September 2003 -August 2004 sec A,B,C 15-44 it stated that it had seven of the top ten rated English films. Spiderman was the highest with a rating of 1.95. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9pm to midnight it had the highest share of 1.08 per cent, maximum reach at 62.37 per cent. In addition people spent 48 minutes on HBO each weekend, which was more than archrival Star Movies.

Addressing a media gathering this afternoon HBO Asia CEO Jonathan Spink said, "HBO's Big Ones rated higher than Star Movies' 'Satruday Night Premieres'. What is more is that in the primetime time arena from 9pm to midnight on all days HBO also emerged as a leader among English general entertainment channels.

"No wonder the competition (Star Movies) is copying our formula by launching the Big Two. The graphics and packaging even look the same. It takes two of their products to match one of ours. What is next? The big Three, Four, Five? Let us just leave it at that."

While conceding that other films that aired in the Big One block like Men In Black II did not manage to match Spiderman's impressive ratings Spink maintained that this was natural as the English film business is title driven.

"We are very excited about another huge franchise The Lord of The Rings. The first installment in the trilogy The Fellowship Of The Ring will air in the last quarter. However it is not just the action-oriented fare that is doing well. The family film Stuart Little 2 was the third highest rated English film this year."

For the Diwali season where all channels try to put their best foot forward HBO will air the caper film Ocean's Eleven. George Cloonety and Brad Pitt are among a gang of thieves that try and rob a Las Vegas casino owned by Andy Garcia. Another big film that will bow on the channel is Charlies Angels:Full Throttle. This sees Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore returning in the roles of the super spy trio.

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