afaqs!

AXN to launch a second channel AXN Beyond

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | September 10, 2008
AXN plans to strengthen its focus on India with locally produced shows. A new channel, AXN Beyond, will be launched in the near future

AXN will & #BANNER1 & # make its presence stronger in India in the coming months. The channel has a new country head in Rohit Bhandari, who was closely involved with the launches of AXN and Animax in India. He recently moved to India from Singapore, the regional headquarters for AXN and Animax, where he was involved in the ad sales function of both the channels for India and Southeast Asia. Now, holding the reigns of AXN in India, he has some concrete plans.

AXN plans to launch a few local productions in India in the coming months. The reality shows, with a focus on Indian viewers, will be in the action-adventure and lifestyle genres. In the past, AXN has featured several shows with a local flavour such as AXN Action Awards, local Guinness World Records, Who Dares Wins India Special and AXN Hot and Wild Contest.

Rohit Bhandari
Speaking to afaqs!, Bhandari says, "We are still finalising a few reality series formats and cautiously weighing them. Currently, most general entertainment channels (GECs) have the song and dance reality shows which are predominantly talent based. We will bring in shows that are based on adventure and thrill."

With the India-centric shows, AXN hopes to widen its audience base. The shows will be placed in a time band that does not affect its existing viewers. "In the 10 pm-12 am time band, we place premium content. The localised shows will have to be placed in another time band," he says. AXN plans to launch the shows by October.

Bhandari adds, "Given the way the market is right now and the need for connecting with the audience, we will undertake ground events on a massive scale. Local productions and audience involvement will be the key focus areas for AXN."

The core target audience for AXN comprises of action and adventure lovers in the age group of 25-45 years, skewed towards men. 16-24 year olds form the secondary target. "This target group is young and has money to spend. From now on, all our efforts will be skewed towards them," says Bhandari.

Sony Pictures Entertainment also plans to launch a new channel, AXN Beyond, in India. AXN Beyond is an offering that looks beyond action and adventure, treading into the sci-fi and supernatural territory. Recently, AXN Beyond was launched in the Philippines and is also available in Singapore and Hong Kong.

"We are looking for an ideal situation when we can launch it here," Bhandari says, referring to the current exorbitant costs of entry and operation in India. The company is keeping a tab on CAS and other reformed modes of distribution so that the addressability issue is solved.

Currently, AXN India contributes 20 per cent of the total revenue of AXN in Asia. Bhandari expects this number to go up to 30 per cent in the next two-three years, or grow by 10-15 per cent year on year.