PIX is trying hard to break away from the industry perception of being library movie channel. The channel is taking several steps to achieve that. For the last couple of years, the channel has been airing the latest Hollywood movies. For instance, multi-Oscar award winner ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was premiered first on PIX.
“That set the tone for the channel and made our intentions clear to the industry and the trade,” said Sunder Aaron, Senior Vice President and Business Head, PIX, in an exclusive conversation with exchange4media.
It was followed up by another new property, called ‘Super Movie of the Month’, where a new movie was telecast every month. This apart, airing of the FA Cup helped the channel gain momentum in 2009 and widen its reach. According to Aaron, ‘Chick on Flicks’ was one of the strongest properties of the channel.
The PIX advantage over competition is handpicked movies. Aaron noted, “The other English movie channels usually have an output deal with movie houses, but with PIX, the case is different. While there is a risk that a great movie produced by an independent producer might go unnoticed, PIX is ready to take that risk as the same might happen to big banner movies as well.”
Going forward in 2010, PIX plans to increase its movie database and showcase major Hollywood movies within a couple of months of their international release. “Typically, you have to wait for a year or a year and a half to see a new Hollywood blockbuster, but we are trying to change that. For instance, the movie ‘This is it’ was just released in December 2009 and we will be showcasing it soon,” said Aaron. ‘This is it’ is expected to be telecast on PIX after the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament.
The DLF IPL tournament, which will be held in major part of March and April, is expected to take away a huge chuck of the television viewing audience. All channels are gearing up to retain their audience during these two months. PIX faces the challenge from its sister channel, MAX. The channel has created a new property, called ‘PIX Premier League’, which will showcase popular movies before and after the IPL matches in the 6 pm and 11 pm slots.
Aaron added, “The channel has high viewership in the afternoon time band and hence, we want to revamp the line-up of movies in that slot as well.”
PIX’s decision to introduce subtitles for Hollywood movies in 2009 has gone down well with the audience. The subtitling is done by an in-house team. Aaron said, “Since an in-house team that looks after the subtitling, the channel has greater control over the type of language being used and can be more nimble in case of an error.”
Introducing subtitles has helped PIX gain popularity in non-urban markets and other smaller towns. “Overall, we made a stronger effect in terms of marketing promotions, especially in Delhi, to expand our reach there,” Aaron said.
Another market that the channel intends to tap into is the South market. Aaron informed that PIX’s channels share in 2009 stood at around 18-20 per cent. The channel intended to increase this share to 25-30 per cent by the end of 2010, he added.
As far as marketing is concerned, Aaron felt that mass media was not effective for this genre, and added that radio and online helped reach out to the right set of target group. Meanwhile, PIX is also revamping its website, which is being made more interactive. The new website will be unveiled in the first week of February 2010. “People were coming to the site just for the programme schedule, so we thought why not offer them something more besides just the schedule,” Aaron explained.
Amid all such activities, it may be noted that PIX still does not have a programming head. To this, Aaron said that he had grown up watching Hollywood movies and was well versed with this genre. Thus, as of now there were no plans to get someone to head the programming team, he concluded.