<b>Amogh Dusad</b>, Programming Head, Pix
We don’t believe that Hollywood entertainment is all about action movies, a mix of genres is essential from a programming and scheduling perspective. Month on month we hand pick our movies to maintain a healthy movie mix. This clearly shows in the channel’s performance and the market share we have been able to garner. With such a strong line up of films PIX has beaten HBO all through the year of 2011. Now we want to move ahead and take the No. 2 position. We would need to do lot more things for it. There will always be latest blockbusters, animation, some Indian films, rom-coms, thrillers, horror on PIX to keep our movie mix strong."
We don’t believe that Hollywood entertainment is all about action movies, a mix of genres is essential from a programming and scheduling perspective. Month on month we hand pick our movies to maintain a healthy movie mix. This clearly shows in the channel’s performance and the market share we have been able to garner. With such a strong line up of films PIX has beaten HBO all through the year of 2011. Now we want to move ahead and take the No. 2 position. We would need to do lot more things for it. There will always be latest blockbusters, animation, some Indian films, rom-coms, thrillers, horror on PIX to keep our movie mix strong."Amogh Dusad is the Head of Programming at Sony PIX. He is responsible for all aspects of programming strategy, planning and scheduling. He also assists with acquisitions; liaise with other departments including ad sales, distribution and marketing.
Prior to joining Sony Pix, he was the Director of Strategic Planning and Research for Imagine TV where he was integral part of content and communication strategy for the channel. He also delved into areas of branded content and movie acquisitions. Amogh started his career with S-Group at TAM Media Research Pvt Ltd.
Amogh is analytical and a strong believer in the power of consumer insights. He has an extremely competitive approach to programming and strategy to maximize viewership.
He has a post graduation in the field of communication from Mudra Institute of Communication (MICA) and a specialization in Strategic Media Planning and Research. In this interaction with exchange4media’s Suraj Ramnath, Dusad talks about Hollywood entertainment, viewership for Pix, competitors, Big Break, Chicks on Flicks, sports programming and much more. Q. What are the focus areas of Pix in the year 2012? Our biggest focus is to become the No. 2 player in the category! We have been beating HBO consistently and now we are aiming to get the No. 2 spot in the genre. The second focus is of course digitisation. Digitisation will be a big change for the television industry in the country which will not only benefit channels but also viewers by giving them power to hand pick channels. The third focus area would be to become stronger in the distribution of the channel to ensure maximum reach of the channel.
Q. How has the growth been for the English movie gene in the last 3-5 years? What would be the key drivers to this growth? The macro indicators in the last 2-3 years indicate towards the increasing popularity of Hollywood moviesin India. This is also evident with increase in number of Hollywood releases in India. For example Tintinhad a brilliant run at the box office this year and we know that when the movie airs on PIX later this year it will perform extremely well. Our category is the only space which caters to the premium male audience apart from sports channels. If you take away sports, there is no other genre that gives advertisers this audience on a regular basis all year round. A 15-20 per cent GRP growth in the category is a very significant. The coming years will be is very strong for all players in this market. Everyone is going to have a great ride because right now we are operating at a very small share of two per cent of television. But this is bound to grow.
Q. New comers like Movies Now have balanced the content mix very well. What is Pix doing to keep itself strong? I would like to disagree, I don’t think that Movies Now can be credited for great content mix. There is clear skew towards action films. We don’t believe that Hollywood entertainment is all about action movies, it is essential to showcase a mix of various genres.
Q. How is sports programming working out for you? It works well with our TG since the genre enjoys a strong male viewership. We are going after younger audiences and therefore sports are not out of context. FA Cup matches do very well on our channel. NBA is aired on Thursday and Saturday mornings. However, being an English Movie Channel we have to keep sports programming to a minimal level and at the same time do justice to the sports content on the channel. If you look at FA Cup then you would find that there are one or two matches in the course of the week for which we often receive good viewership.
Q. There haven’t been much of promotions when it comes to football or NBA matches on Pix. How do you plan to promote these sports? We heavily promote our sports properties through the digital space. All the telecast information, activities and contests are available through the channel’s website and Facebook. Also, football and basketball have a small but a very loyal fan base due to which you don’t have to advertise much. A Manchester United fan would always know when the match is happening. We are Hollywood movie channel and not an Sports Channel.
Q. How did you acquire the rights for these sports? Being a multinational company with a presence in multiple fields of entertainment and soprts globally we enjoy a strong relation with basketball and football associations. The norms to get rights to these sports are extremely difficult. Premium properties like the NBA and FA Cup need to be treated with utmost care since these are mammoth international sports. Over the years we have built a very strong relationship with them and have received a great response for the properties.
Q. How are you going to determine which are the top entries? There are going to be two judging parameters to this. One is the number of votes a video has receivedand the second is an assessment by our panel. There could be some person who has received a great number of votes but is not a very good actor and on the hand there could be someone who hasn’t got the votes but is a very good actor! This is where our Big Break panel would have to audition the participants and access them accordingly. Voting counts but the final judging would be done by our panel. We have a panel of ten people who will judge all the entries.
Q. You had launched Chicks on Flicks on Facebook. How has the response been for that? Chicks on Flicks is doing very well! The reviews are shared the same day as the film’s release which makes the content very current. The online avatar is picking up and we have seen the viewer interaction with the critics increase. Chicks on Flicks will take some time to further pick up since it can’t be anovernight phenomena due to its dependence on viewer interaction.
Q. Do you think there is overkill of award shows due to which the ratings have been declining year by year? I most definitely don’t think there is an overkill, but the reason why you are seeing so many award shows is because the competition is fierce. We have enjoyed an exclusive association with BAFTA for a few years now. Star Movies has Oscars, but the other players are left without any recognized awards. It is unfair to judge BAFTA and Oscars on ratings because of odd telecast timings for the Live telecast.Ratings are inaccurate indicator of the following that these properties enjoy in India. Every channel airs a special festival around the award winning films to create buzz. Apart from channels even Multiplexes gain out of award winning titles..
Q. What kind of viewers are there for Pix and how do they perceive it? Demographically, the audience that English movie channels cater to is a SEC A, B 15-44 years. Within that, PIX enjoys a great connect with younger audiences. However, we do keep in mind to not alienate any age group. So what we do interestingly in scheduling, is to effectively address various audience groups on a daily basis across dayparts. A number of programming and communication initiatives areexecuted in the afternoon band specifically directed towards the youth. The thought on the prime time line-up is quite different from the afternoon. In that sense, our channel is very dynamic. For instance- onSunday mornings the title that we select and promote will has a specific target audience in their mind.
All the day parts have been blocked and branded keeping in mind the different needs and likes of various audience groups most likely to be consuming PIX at a particular time. At an overall level SEC AB, 15-44 years Males is the focus audience.
Q. Apart from Sony pictures, with which other production houses do you have affiliations with? We have been continuously acquiring movies from Paramount, Universal and many other studios. The channel has been performing well and we are constantly acquiring more titles. We are the only English Movie Channel in India to have an exclusive output deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment. Other than that, we also have an extensive library of popular blockbuster titles. We aired Fast & Furious this Sundaywhich was earlier with and it was with Star Movies. These types of jumps are frequent in the category wherein films often go from one channel to the other.
Q. Have you done any research on viewership while these matches are on? We haven’t done any proactive research, but we do take serious note of feedback from the viewers on the matches they would like to see through website and Facebook. These learnings are incorporated in our plans. It has a small viewer base but a very active one.
Q. What are the advertiser’s profiles for the sports like Football & NBA on Pix? A lot of sponsors for these sports are global sponsors. The genre is male driven, there are a lot of advertisers on the channel which are the automobiles brands which are driven to male audiences. There is eagerness from brands to sponsor these properties because it is the same male TG they want to reach out to.
Q. What kind of response have you got for the Big Break contest running on your homepage and Facebook? Big Break is path breaking concept in the category and a campaign of this nature has never been carried out before. Big Break has received a lot of traction and we have thousands of registrations and a of videos coming in. The good thing with Big Break is that it is opening up a direct dialogue with our viewers. It is growing and it will grow as it’ll give people a ‘big break’ to make pursue their acting dreams.
Q. Is Pix coming up with any specific movie blocks like Friday Thrillers? Do these really work in getting more viewership? We already have a very strong the Sunday movie block called Sunday Breakout. There are two types of blocks that we create. One type is purely scheduling driven which is essentially rooted in deep understanding of a viewers’ day in life. Sunday morning is an area which we identified as a great opportunity since nothing is specifically programmed for this slot by competition. We started Sunday Break Out and give the audience a DVD experience on Sunday morning with handpicked titles since the past 16 weeks. There are also a lot of imagery driven programming initiatives. For example we did afestival in January called ‘Outlaws’ and are coming up with lots more blocks. These blocks often consist of popular movies and are packaged with strong Communication push.
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