WB: Not just another movie channel

By Sumantha Rathore , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | March 05, 2009
Turner International and Warner Bros Entertainment will launch an English entertainment channel for the Indian audience on March 15

Hollywood Movies will comprise 70 per cent of the content of the new channel, WB, launched in India by Turner International and Warner Brothers Entertainment. Like any other movies channel, this one too will include series and other movie related shows in its programming.

However, Turner International likes to position this channel as an English entertainment channel and not just a movie channel. Quite strategic as the group already has a English movie channel in its stable, HBO and would not like any clash between the two.

One obvious question. How different will it be from HBO?

Steve Marcopoto, president, Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, tells afaqs!, "The new channel will have series, movies and behind the scenes programmes. While HBO is a blockbuster channel, WB will showcase the personality of Hollywood and will have a mix of blockbuster and other good movies that are not seen much."

Marcopoto likes to believe that there is enough room for both the channels to co-exist in the market. "HBO won't be our competition but will compliment the new channel," he says.

afaqs! also sought opinion of a few media observers.

"From a consumers' point of view, there is always scope for a new channel," opines Ravi Kiran, chief executive officer, Southeast and South Asia and CEO, specialist solutions, Asia, Starcom MediaVest Group.

"However, from the ad revenue's perspective, it won't be an easy walk for the channel," Kiran quickly adds. "The new channel will have to move very patiently."

Overall, Kiran believes that there wouldn't have been a better time to launch a new channel. "This is because if you fail, no one will blame you - so the fear of failure will be the least now."

Besides, the other positive aspect for the new channel is the tie up with Warner Brothers. "It is largest film production unit, and a huge library to boast of which will help the new channel have an edge over other players," says a senior media observer.

However, the media community was unanimous on the fact that the channel needs to market itself very aggressively. Divya Radhakrishnan, president, TME, says, "There is room for a new channel as advertisers will put in their monies only if the channel is promoted well and has some good titles."

Another senior media planner says, "If the channel airs blockbusters, lesser seen movies which are backed with aggressive promotions, it could turn the table for the channel."

"Most of the English movies are seen by not more than 2 per cent of the audience at a given point of time," he rationalises.

The new channel will go on air on March 15. This pay channel will have programming licensed from Warner Bros. International Television Distribution (WBITD).

The channel will be distributed by Zee-Turner and will be available on DTH and C&S platforms. However, the company is not banking on being available on the prime band. An industry observer says, "Prime band used to be an issue earlier but those days are long gone. The audience for this channel won't have these issues any more; they are digital television users and not analog users."

The channel will showcase entertaining, exciting and funny movies by Warner Brothers.

Monica Tata, vice-president and deputy general manager, Entertainment Networks, South Asia, Turner International India, says that the channel, unlike other English channels, will not be title driven but will bring the flavour of Hollywood. The channel will be good looking, with a focus on what Hollywood is all about. "We are positioning it as the channel for Hollywood buffs," she says.

The target group of WB includes the upscale Indian audience in the age group of 15- 44 years, who have an appetite for Hollywood movies. The channel has a library of 6,000 movies from the stable of Warner Brothers.

WB will have segments such as WB Platinum showcasing channel premieres; WB Nitro focussing on biggest action hits; WB Triple Play containing 'must-see' movies that are all-time entertainers; WB Cinematheque for the classic film lovers; and WB Premieres offering a mix of comedy and drama series.

The channel, apart from showcasing the reruns of popular series, will also showcase a fresh series of Friends.

The channel will soon launch a 360 degree marketing campaign where the Internet will be used extensively. "Keeping the present market condition in mind, we are evaluating the market and will launch a campaign that uses all the media at optimum best. We will go to joints where youngsters hang out a lot," says Tata.

The channel will be supported by its website, called itsonWB.com, that will provide information about the shows, trailers and news snippets.

For the record, Turner already has its presence in India with channels such as CNN, Pogo, Cartoon Network and HBO, and has a distribution tie up with Zee Network.

© 2009 afaqs!