The Pix plan for genre leadership

28 Nov,2011

By Rishi Vora

 

Sony Pix, the English movie channel from the Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd (MSM) bouquet is, with aggressive content acquisition and marketing strategy, looking to push its channel share up in a bid to get to the top league. Where competition is quite intense between Star Movies and Movies Now. This year, the channel shifted its focus from its positioning – ‘We Tell Stories’, to ‘Hollywood is Here’. The strategic tie-up with Sony Pictures Entertainment has given enough strength to the channel as far as content is concerned. The deal was finalised in 2010, which means starting 2011, Pix has done enough on the programming bit to enter the much-desired Hollywood mainstream space.

 

Commenting on the progress of Sony Pix, Executive Vice President and Business Head, Mr Sunder Aaron said, “The channel has delivered great results over the last couple of years. Today, we’re a consistent major player in the category. We have been fortunate to achieve our goals in terms of ratings, reach and distribution. The channel’s new library from Sony Pictures Entertainment, which includes some of the finest titles and  block busters have delivered great numbers.” Elaborating on the channel’s content efforts, Programming Head, Mr Amogh Dusad, said, “This year, we premiered six to seven movies every month, all blockbuster films. And that helped us improve our overall ranking in the category.”

 

The channel saw yet another big change in 2011 – on the packaging and presentation aspects. Himmat Butalia, Marketing Head, Pix, said, “We consciously tried to look at the younger audience and see how we could engage them in various ways. As for promoting our titles, every movie has a different kind of a marketing angle to it.”

 

“The Movie Club, one of our major properties, has done well. We’re at 15,000 members now from 4000 a few months back. The reason it’s such a fantastic property is that it allows viewers to watch movies absolutely free of cost. The channel’s marketing efforts include a mix of offline and online (Facebook brand page and YouTube, Webisodes etc) campaigns.

 

With a host of programming and marketing initiatives, Mr Aaron referred to how Sony Pix beat HBO in the ratings game, in 36 out of 47 weeks.”Ratings of the past quarter shows that Pix has upped its market share to 19 per cent as compared to HBO which stands at 14 per cent (source: TAM, CS 15 +, 6 metros, SEC AB, Week 27-39).”

 

For the next quarter, we want to take Pix into the leadership position. While we have been No1 in the category, and have been No 1 in every market from time to time, we want to be in that position on a more consistent basis. The performance of the channel over the past 18 months has shown that this is achievable. The growing response from our fans has overwhelmed us. The future also holds a lot more big titles premiering on the channel. We will do our best as a channel and as a brand to continue innovating, surprising and delighting our audience.”

 

The Movies Now- Star Movies tussle; Opportunity Sony Pix
The launch of Movies Now shook up the line-up a bit. One week after launch, the channel managed to grab the No 2 position. This, as experts view, happened at the back of a huge distribution push, investment on content – acquiring a few big-ticket movies, and then the strategy to repeat those titles on a regular basis. What Movies Now success did, is broad-based the category, so from 60 GRPs, the category of English movies has increased to about 75 GRPs. However, the channel did begin to see a dip with Star Movies catching up. Mr Dusad remarked, “Movies Now being beaten by Star Movies is an indication that sustaining leadership is a challenge if you’re not investing in content on a regular basis, acquiring new titles, doing premiers etc.” In the last six months, Mr Dusad pointed out that Pix beat HBO in 23 weeks, and that they’re looking at taking on the top two players with a host of new initiatives in 2012 (TAM CS 15 +, SEC AB, 6 metros). The idea is to first get to channel share of 20 per cent.

 

The challenges for Pix are on two grounds: one is to be No 1 in the category emphatically and convincingly, beating both Star Movies and Movies Now, and then to ensure profitability and growth quarter after quarter, year after year.

 

Another challenge as Mr Aaron pointed out will be to increase the number of advertisers on the channel, and help generate higher revenues, thus leading to higher budgets in acquiring bigger and better titles. On how well has the channel done in the past one year revenue wise, Mr Dusad said, “I can’t share the numbers, all I can say is that we’ve been growing at a decent rate. Clients are happy to spend more with us. Every year, our range of advertisers is increasing and the money spent by them on the channel is also increasing. And we’re seeing a lot more stability in our growth.”

 

Digitisation will bring in subscription revenues – a big opportunity, now that the ordinance is passed by the government. The category growth, which is about 30 per cent, the channel will do well to achieve similar growth. There’s a lot to be done for Pix to be No 1. Who knows what’s in the offing. Zee Studio is behind Pix, though with a much lesser share. Coming from the Zee stable, one cannot write the channel off.

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