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SPN’s English Cluster sees growth of 54% in 2017 vis a vis 2016: Tushar Shah, SPN India

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SPN’s English Cluster sees growth of 54% in 2017 vis a vis 2016: Tushar Shah, SPN India

In August last year, Sony Pictures Network India made a key announcement in leadership and gave additional business mandate of its English cluster to Tushar Shah who was heading its regional channel Sony Aath for more than eight years. “In any work, learning about the new space and consumer is the bigger challenge but thanks to the team for making things easier,” said the EVP and business head of Sony English cluster (AXN, Sony LePlexHD, Sony Pix and Sony BBC Earth) when asked about the challenges that he faced during the transition. Shah shares more about his journey, the network's growth and upcoming plans for 2018. Excerpts:

It's been five months since you took over the business mandate of Sony’s English cluster. How has the transition been for you?

I thinks it's an amazing category. It's one category where i haven't worked in my entire television journey and it makes me feel alive.

The genre and number of channels we have are doing so well. I am still learning and am still not conversant with a lot of terminology we use here. I am sure I will enjoy the journey even more moving forward. I am learning about new sets of consumers. It's an extremely vibrant category to be part of and for me personally it's an extremely satisfying experience to be part this cluster.

How was 2017 for Sony’s English Cluster?

All the channels are doing well. If you look at AXN, its been the number one channel with 25% market share. It's a 20 year old entity and its been through its own sets of ups and downs but if you look at the last couple of years, the performance of the channel is right up there, on top, consistently performing and delivering not only in terms of overall numbers but also in terms of inclusiveness of both genders ( leader in female viewership with 26% and male with 24%)

Our philosophy clearly is that deep understanding of the consumer and differentiation of value addition is at the core of everything that we do. So you have to provide what the consumer wants and that feedback comes from the experiential marketing that we do. Our offering is different than anybody else who is there in the same space.

In the movie space (Sony Pix and Sony Leplex HD ) we are are clearly top 2 for over 2-3 years now. Sony Pix was the number two channel with 18 per cent market share as per BARC data.

Sony BBC Earth will complete a year in March. How has the one year journey been for the channel?

Overall the journey has been as expected and the start has been really good for us. We are in the category which is moving from infotainment to entertainment and we are clear about the space and what it will cater to. The overall journey of BBC Earth has delivered to our expectations but there is a long way to go and that’s what we set to out to do in 2018 with the new line up.

If you look at the infotainment space, there seems to be a shift in what people are offering but we are very clear that we want to stay in the infotainment space and to that extent whatever content is required to showcase, we will do that. In the last one year we clearly demonstrated that there was a need gap because people did leave that space open for us to enter. We entered, people have accepted it. We were number 2 with 14 per cent market share last week (week 2) which also goes on to show that people are slowly and steadily accepting us. It's not easy to walk into the market where others are for there 15-20 years but I don't think that any other channel has seen this kind of growth the way Sony BBC Earth has.

Which are the brand categories you have on-board?

We have various categories of advertisers including automobile, FMCG, telecom, e-commerce etc and some of our key clients include Amazon, Jeep, P&G, Airtel, Google (Pixel 2) etc.

What are the programming innovations you are planning to do for 2018 across the English cluster?

2018 is the year of innovation, bold decision and compelling content. For AXN one of the innovations that we are doing is the new property ‘ Seven Days Seven New Shows'. All the shows will be premiered first time in India on AXN. The episodes air at 10pm Monday-Sunday. Shows like ZOO, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Doubt and many more are part of this. There are other shows including Billions, The Brave and Vikings. Also, none of these shows will be available on any other platform.

For Sony Pix and Sony LePlex, we have deals with top five Hollywood studios like Universal, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros Pictures and Lionsgate. We also have association with PVR Pictures. We have a library of 500 movies which you will not find on any other channel or digital platform. There is no other channel which offers such wide range of content from top five studios.

How do you plan to promote the upcoming AXN shows?

We are focusing more on experiential marketing. For example, for the show The Handmaid’s Tale, we are undertaking a unique exercise. Women dressed in red robes with white hats holding placards with bold messages are swarming malls and offices across Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai in places like Cyber Hub, Phoenix Mall Chennai, Palladium, Group M and Lodestar to name a few.

And for Sony BBC Earth?

Sony BBC Earth airs premium content. Going forward we will launch, Feel Alive Hours at school, a curated program for students across schools in key metros including 300 schools, 2 lakh students and four cities. We are putting our best foot forward, offering the best in the category and from the kind of response we are getting from the consumers both in terms of viewership and on the ground we are very hopeful that we will get a significant jump this year.

Tags AXN HD Sony BBC Earth Sony Pictures Network India Sony PIX Tushar Shah

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