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Quick five with AXN India’s Sunil Punjabi

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Quick five with AXN India’s Sunil Punjabi

AXN India has completed 15 years in the Indian market. Unlike other channels in the English GEC space, AXN has always focussed on a particular genre of programming pertaining to crime, thriller and adventure.

In conversation with exchange4media, Sunil Punjabi, Business Head, AXN Networks, India talks about AXN completing 15 years in India, the channel’s focus on differentiated programming and the significance of the digital platform for channels today.                                                              

Are you happy with the niche the channel has created for itself and the way it has grown?
There is always room to do more in the action and thriller genre. There are a lot of initiatives that the channel is undertaking at the consumer level to connect with its target audience. As a part of the 15-year celebration, AXN has launched the ‘Thrillionaire campaign’ which is all about excitement and undiluted zeal. The on-air and online campaign would provide a platform to thrill seekers to show the world what they are and what they can be through this campaign. The five best videos which have been shortlisted will be aired shortly. The videos would be released on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and is targeted towards adrenaline junkies and consumers who seek thrill and adventure in their life.

AXN has also modified the month of October as ‘Shocktober’ for all the thrill seekers who will receive a daily dose of shocks in terms of season premieres of AXN’s prime properties such as ‘NCIS LA (season 3), Teen Wolf and Destination Truth along with movies that promises to sweep the viewer off their feet. Some of the movies that will be featured during ‘Shocktober Movie Fest’ are The Ring, The Thirteenth Floor, Payback and Darkness Falls.

Though the number of channels have grown in the English GE space, content is still limited. Please comment.
Content largely depends on the demand and supply chain. AXN has its own set of original content and programming which is ahead of time and has been a category breaker time and again with programming content such as CSI, Top Chef, etc. to name a few. Since we are a large international channel, drama series is our strength. We always aim to acquire fresh content and keep the programming library updated.

What would you say is the channel’s content focus area?
AXN has always considered drama, action, thriller and crime based programming as its bread and butter. We believe in unscripted reality shows and a right mix of programming content.

Do you believe digital has huge potential when it comes to marketing shows? What are the initiatives that been taken up on the digital space?
Marketing activities are a significant part and are carried out for two reasons. The first one is to increase the recall value of the already existing properties among the original target viewers. The second reason is to try and reach out to newer audiences who have not been exposed to the content that is telecast on the channel.

The channel earmarks the marketing spends on media platforms which would help create interactivity with the target audience. AXN undertakes a lot of promotional activities on social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Apart from social media, we create ad spots as well as use the OOH medium to a good extent. Cinema advertising is also something we are exploring.

Recently AXN organized a ‘tweet up’ event for the promotion of season eight of ‘Supernatural’. The event had fans tweeting every detail of the convention with a lot of ‘supernatural’ exciting activities planned for the media and the fans present there.

The idea of the convention for ‘Supernatural’ came through a simple tweet by a fan suggesting for a convention in India and then it started a revolution on Twitter. Our proposal for a ‘Supernatural Convention’ met with a roaring response from the fans. Reaching 149k+ accounts, delivering 609K+ responses, adding 12 per cent more fans in a day, receiving tweets from celebs and some international followers as well.

What is the way forward for AXN now?
AXN delivers to 50 per cent more audience than its competitors. The TG identifies the channel because of its action-oriented content. Discounting the language barrier, the channel aims to reach across to a slightly broader psychographic. With the digitisation drive that is going on, the reach will get highlighted. We have always believed in going beyond viewership numbers and considered reach to be of a higher significance.

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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.