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AXN India strengthens its weekend programming with new shows fresh from the US

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AXN India strengthens its weekend programming with new shows fresh from the US

It’s been nearly nine months of AXN India rebranding itself with a new logo and tagline called LIVE R.E.D.  Since then it has always been on the forefront with communicating to its target audience with content. Now the channel is soon to air four new shows starting this weekend in their ‘Fresh From the US’ slot. While two are brand new shows, ‘Bull’ and ‘MacGyver’, other two are returning seasons of popular shows ‘Supernatural’ and ‘Elementary’. Saturday will see the channel playing ‘Supernatural’ and ‘MacGyver’ at 10 pm and 11 pm respectively while Sunday will have Elementary and Bull at 10 pm and 11 pm respectively.  Saurabh Yagnik, Executive Vice-President and Business Head, English Entertainment Cluster, Sony Pictures Networks India, talks about new weekend programming and how the rebranding has boosted the channel...

How has your rebranding been received so far?

We did a lot of dipstick after our re-launch and I must say proudly that our re-launch was very well received both from advertisers as well as consumers. Expectations from the channel, our shows and characters on the channel and the fact that we have so much content diversity has got registered beautifully.  So in terms of clarity of communication and articulation of what to expect on the channel, we have got a strong thumbs up on that.

 We got viewership from each of these verticals like reality, entertainment and drama. Reality shows like ‘Ripleys’, ‘Fear Factor’, ‘Amazing Races’ and ‘Voice’ are extremely popular. In drama ‘Elementary’, ‘Sherlock,’ ‘Dexter’ and ‘Orphan Black’ are popular as well. The important thing is to have great show; second thing is to be clear to the consumer or viewer to know what to expect from the channel; third thing is to build strong association with show and characters. Those are the three pillars based on which we build our strategy.

Most of your competitors keep offering fresh content immediately after the US premier. How are you differentiating yourself?

We are not saying that we are the only destination for new shows. The biggest differentiator is we are building show and character association. We are building a communication strategy which is driving habit, showcasing diversity and addressing a wider diaspora of audience rather than going after one set of audience. Shows will keep coming and going but we are creating a distinct slot promise over there to say that ‘this is what is happening’ and keeping it consistently updated throughout the year so that people don’t have confusion. 

We try to keep a balance between new shows and returning season. That way familiarity and newness is also there. You can look at audience’s retention in a much more balanced way.

How are you branding your new shows?

We are trying to create a habit building experience through a defined slot promise. If you come on a weekend between 10 pm and 12 am, you know you will get a fresh from the US show at that time. That’s how we have positioned our communication strategy. Once we establish the new shows then we are going to looking at on-ground associations. So when people look at these shows, they know that they come on AXN.

When are you planning to revise the ad rates?

That’s the part of our ongoing strategy based on what works and what doesn’t.  The whole effort of the relaunch is to build a sharper promise and leverage that to take up yields. That’s clearly what we are working on.

Currently what are you focusing on?

The moment our positioning is well articulated, show associations are sharpened and people know what to expect from the channel and they will keep coming back to us. Slot promises are sharpened which has worked out. Right now it’s about staying on the course. We are focusing on consolidating whatever we have done. This slot will never be empty. There will always be new shows from the US in that slot throughout the year.

You mentioned you have got positive response from advertisers after rebranding. Which category of advertisers has shown maximum interest?

It has seen a lot of interest after rebranding. Ecommerce like Myntra, Flipkart, eBay and Pepperfry has come on in a big way. Automobile is one category that has come on board for ‘Fresh From the Weekend’ slot. These two categories are predominant advertisers.

How are making sure your rebranding is reaching out to cities beyond metros?

We are cross leveraging our own network channel which also reaches out to the same consumer set. Our social media strategy is not just targeted at the metros but all the major English consuming sectors. That’s how we are optimising.

How’s the digital strategy for AXN shaping up?

We have a robust digital strategy. Our interaction levels are one of the highest in the category. We have 50 per cent engagement rate on Facebook. Its SOV on Twitter is around 54 per cent. 

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