afaqs!

Sony Pix takes to football to widen audience base

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | November 13, 2008
The movie channel has bagged the telecast rights for the UK's Football Association Challenge Cup

Sony & #BANNER1 & # Pix, the movie channel from Multi Screen Media, recently bagged the official rights to telecast one of UK's most popular football tournaments, the Football Association Challenge Cup, popularly known as the FA Cup.

Talking to afaqs! about this deviation from the norm, Sunder Aaron, business head, Sony Pix, says, "Having sports content on the channel is stunt programming - it is targeted at our core audience of SEC A and B males in the age group of 18-44 years. Hopefully, it will also widen our reach by attracting first timers and encouraging sampling of the channel by new viewers."

Aaron reveals that in the West, major sporting events on movie channels is a well accepted practice. HBO, for example, airs sporting events in countries such as the US and the UK. In fact, Sony Pix has also bagged the telecast rights for a series of international football matches in England, in which the senior national team will attempt to qualify for the World Cup 2010 and the European Cup 2012.

The channel heads are confident that given the popularity of the sport in India, the football matches will attract a large number of viewers. Due care will be taken to ensure that the heavy schedule of football matches remains attractive without disrupting the channel's regular movie schedule.

Sony Pix started its operations in India in 2006. Since its launch, the channel has focused on showcasing Hollywood movies with the best storylines and some exciting Hollywood oriented shows. Its most recent show is Chicks on Flicks, a 30 minute weekly programme, which offers movie and DVD reviews.

Aaron explains, "Being a movie channel does not imply that 100 per cent content will be movies. Since our début, we have been airing some original movie based shows and, at the same time, we have ensured that the proportion of movie and non-movie content remains tilted heavily in favour of Hollywood films."

He adds, "At any given time, movies will make up 80 per cent of our programming; the remaining 20 per cent is accounted for by special events, thus further augmenting the strong movie lineup."

For the record, Sony Pix airs movies from motion picture studios such as Sony, MGM and Universal. In the past, as part of its non-movie content, it has telecast musical concerts, the BAFTA Awards and the Goal 4 Africa Charity Match to attract more viewers.

It has also aired shows such as the Pix Short Film Festival and Gateway, a reality show on film making, supported by well known names such as Ashok Amritraj, Rajat Kapoor and Anurag Basu.

Elaborating on the competition in the English movie channels segment, Aaron says, "By and large, this is a segment which competes to attract a niche audience. Within that, it's laudable that UTV had the courage to come out with a world movie channel, which vies for a niche audience within an existing niche. We have always tried to remain true to our tagline, We Tell Stories, by showcasing a wide array of movies with strong storylines, irrespective of whether it has big names in it or not."

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