Saurabh Yagnik, EVP and Business Head, Sony PIX and AXN has taken many measures to ensure that Sony PIX was catapulted to the number two position in ratings from the number four position it previously occupied in the Hollywood movie channel genre. Armed with a three- pronged strategy, he claims has given a tough challenge to leaders Star Movies and eventually will make Sony PIX a market leader in the English movies category. Yagnik talks to exchange4media on the strategy.
What is the strategy created for Sony PIX to get ahead of the competition?
We have broken up our strategy into three parts for Sony PIX, it was about investing in content, building perception of the channel and the third was innovating to break clutter. In a category which had eight to nine players and with movies which were changing hands with channels because of the kind of business structures which we have with Hollywood studios, it was very important not to be a blind spot in the minds of the viewer; as the viewer basically had 20 per cent connect or correct association of a property with a particular channel.
What steps were taken to execute this strategy?
We actually made very aggressive investments in content. We tied up the MGM first for output and we got Skyfall and all the bond franchise for three years and we have made other investments with Paramount, Disney, etc. to really widen the basket of offerings for viewers.
Building perception is important in our category which is not necessarily driven by appointment because we play different movies every day. The first thing we did was in terms of getting the attention of viewers, we put disproportionate investments behind our mega premiere. So our big premieres like Men in Black 3, Skyfall, Amazing Spiderman 2, The Hobbit and the last property which we had was a Premiere Pixathon, it had four premieres back to back. And we have taken that one step further now. For the premiere of certain movies we are trying to provide ‘money can’t buy’ premium type of merchandise to viewers out of a contest promoting the movie. Two examples are, we are going to air Captain Phillips and as a part of the overall promotion plan we are running a contest where we are going to be giving away a t-shirt that was worn by Tom Hanks in the movie itself. Similarly, for White House Down in August we would be giving out the shirt and the tie that was worn by Jamie Foxx in the movie. So we are trying to get Hollywood closer to India.
Our clutter breaking initiatives can be seen in our re-launch, we completely repositioned the way we were. If you see more channels in the category are more or less trying to establish themselves as a Hollywood channel. We instead asked what is it about Hollywood that people like? It is that when they watch a Hollywood movie that there is never a dull moment. Never a dull moment as an expression was retained in the channels positioning as stay amazed.
What initiatives have you taken to increase interactivity among viewers?
We believe that it is not only about television but you have to occupy the whole ecosystem around Hollywood, so we have a property on social media which we promote called PIX Premiere Nights. It is an opportunity which we give to our viewers to actually get to watch a big movie one day before it is actually released or a day before the rest of India does. We promote the contest by questions asked on television during the movie and on social media and the viewer is expected to reply. So once we get the responses then we select the winners. So we actually select about 2,200 contest winners give them couple passes across 10 cities and have an exclusive screening of movies in those 10 cities at exclusive screens which we promote through a contest. We have done three of them so far, Robocop, Spiderman 2 and The Hobbit and now we are going to do for Expendables 3.
What other tools do you use in engaging the audience?
We have a very robust social media strategy and I am happy to say that amongst all channels in our category, our engagement rates are the highest at about 11.7 per cent, whereas the rest of the competition has around 3-5 per cent engagement rates. We have strong content strategy for Facebook where we are building some micro-properties. For everyday of the week we have micro-properties built.
What are the advertising revenues generated by your company during prime time?
We generally do not talk about our advertising revenues as we are a private listed company, but we are growing upwards of 25 per cent. Prime time definitely generates more advertising revenues than other time slots.
What are your future plans for the channel?
We have now launched an HD channel. It is on air and we are getting placements on various operators and that is another step in building perception. Other than that, we are going to have various premieres like Captain Phillips, The Hobbit 2, Robocop and Spiderman 2.