Time zones other than prime time will be the main focus for Sony Entertainment Television (SET) in 2004.
Just as Sony, the flagship channel of SET, is paying attention to other hours during the day, Max, the Bollywood and cricket channel, is to project the 5 p.m. movie slot as prime time at the smaller town level.
"We are taking efforts to build the evening slot, especially in smaller towns where the nights fall much earlier than in cities like Mumbai," said Mr Rajat Jain, Executive Vice-President and Business Head, SET.
SET has opted for the low-priced Indian postcard as the new marketing tool to promote Max as a brand as well as focus attention on the 5 p.m. slot. It has chosen the Indian Post and Telegraph's Media Post as a vehicle to brand two million postcards to be sold in post offices across 31 towns and cities in the Hindi heartland. The postcards are printed with a Max logo beside the stamp with a promotional line in Hindi, Har Sham 5 Baje Dekhiye.
Indian Post delivers 1,575 crore mails every year through a network of 1,54,149 post offices and 5,64,701 letterboxes.
According to Mr Jain, Media Post may not offer total exclusivity but it does offer category exclusivity. "Max is known for innovation; we are using innovative means to create awareness about our brand as well as the 5 p.m. slot across small towns in the Hindi heartland," he said.
Max has a 60 per cent share in prime-time viewership and an overall 45 per cent share in the Hindi movie channel category. Having established its position in the 9 p.m. movie slot, Max is working up a buzz about the 5 p.m. slot in the Hindi belt. "There is a lot of exchange of postcards in these smaller towns," Mr Jain said. "This is a test phase. We will evaluate the impact of using branded postcards and possibly extend it geographically and quantity-wise," he said, though ruling out the Southern region.
The 5 p.m. movie profile will be similar to the 9 p.m. slot, while the classics are positioned for the morning and afternoon slots, Mr Jain said.
Max, meanwhile, is readying itself for the telecast of ICC Under 19 World Cup Cricket to be played in Bangladesh from February 16 to March 5. "We will showcase matches in which the Indian team will play. There will be three super league matches, two semi-finals and one final," he said.