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AXN bets big on 2015; launches new shows

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MUMBAI: Come April and English entertainment channel AXN from the Multi Screen Media (MSM) stable is all set to redefine itself. The channel will be extending its content offering and has lined up a slew of new shows for this year. Moreover, April will also see the launch of the channel’s high definition offering - AXN HD.

Speaking on the launch of the HD channel, Sony Pix and AXN EVP and business head Saurabh Yagnik says, “Due to digitisation, issues relating to distribution and availability have been addressed. The category has now become more amenable to appointment based viewing and audiences are seeking two kinds of shows - iconic and fresh shows from the US.”

As part of its revised strategy, the channel will do away with telecasting movies.

Brand New FPC

Keeping consumer insights in mind, the channel has increased its programming line up. For instance, the weekday programming slot from Monday to Thursday has been re-jigged to Monday to Friday. The 8 pm slot will have signature shows like Guiness, Ripley’s, American Ninja Warrior and Wipeout.

This will be followed by reality shows at 9 pm like Fear Factor, So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef, Survivor and The Amazing Race

The 10 pm slot will have famous crime shows like 24, Elementary, NCIS and CSI amongst others.

Finally, the 11 pm slot will have edgier content with shows like Sex and the City, Dexter, Ray Donovan and Californification.

Weekend Slot Strengthened

In August 2014, AXN introduced a new weekend slot, ‘Not So Ordinary Weekend,’ which aired on Friday and Saturday. Since the weekday slot will now be extended from Monday to Friday, the 'Not So Ordinary Weekend' slot has been moved to Saturday and Sunday. During this slot, the channel will air fresh content airing closer to US dates. Shows that air in this slot are: Sherlock (season four), Supernatural (season eleven), Orphan Black (season three), Hannibal (season three), Elementary (season four), Voice (season nine and 10), Madam Secretary (season two), Extant (season two), and Scorpion (season three).

New Shows:

Beginning 6 April, fresh seasons of shows like 24 and Dexter will be telecast at 10 pm and 11 pm respectively on weekdays. Top Chef Masters season five will begin from 9 April at 8 pm during the weekdays. Another long running reality show Survivor is back in its season 27 from 21 April from Monday to Friday at 9 pm.

The channel has partnerships with 20 global studios like CBS, Sony Pictures, BBC, WB, MGM, NBC Universal, Buena Vista International, Fremantle Media, Endemol, and FOX for content deals. The channel also has 2000 plus hours of content supply every year.

AXN HD Launch

On 6 May, 2014 MSM received two licences from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B). The aim was to increase its high definition (HD) offering to its viewers. The licences obtained were for AXN HD and SET HD. The network today announced that AXN HD will be launched on 6 April, 2015. It will have 1080i HD picture clarity and 5.1 sharp surround sound. The network is currently in talks with various platforms for its distribution. It is currently priced at Rs 30.

“While the shows will be same on the two channels, we will be tweaking some of the content for the HD feed. We could also have certain exclusive content for the HD feed in the future,” informs Yagnick.

Social Engagement

Providing some inputs from digital agency Social Bakers for the period December 2014 to February 2015, the channel claims to have an engagement rate on social media of 5.80 per cent versus its closest rival Zee cafe at 2.90 per cent. For the same period, FX, Comedy Central and Star World had an engagement rate of 1.70 per cent, 1.36 per cent and 0.76 per cent respectively. A third of the channel’s marketing budget is dedicated for digital activations that are handled both by AXN and digital agency Tonic Media. Through this, AXN targets to reach an additional five million fans on social media. 

The target audience for the channels is the 15-34 age group.

Marketing

AXN has also put in place an aggressive TV plan where promotions will run across the MSM network channels. A print plan targeted in four cities on 6 April is on the anvil besides robust social media promotions. However, radio and OOH will not feature for the promotions.

Sharing an insight about the genre’s growth, Yagnick says that the average weekly viewing (time spent) of 10 minutes on the genre has increased by approximately 50 per cent. While the metros have been performing well for the channel, the U.P. market has grown substantially as distribution has helped increase availability.

Pix and AXN vice president and head programming and acquisitions Amogh Dusad informs that drama is the biggest performing genre on the channel. “Comedy is well being explored and reality shows too have performed well for the channel,” Dusad adds.

With a robust line up and a focus ahead on retaining its leadership position, AXN is aiming at making it big this year.

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