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PIX readies to combat IPL

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | April 07, 2009
With a summer line up of movies and a campaign around it, PIX gets ready to cash in on the IPL tournament

Call it sibling rivalry of sorts - PIX, the English movie channel from Multi Screen Media, is gearing up to face the IPL challenge. With new movies in its lineup, shift of prime-time slots and a promotional campaign, it hopes to beat the IPL blues and leverage the tournament to its advantage.

Sunder Aaron, business head, PIX, believes that IPL has affected every channel in the entertainment business. "It is the biggest sporting event on television and it definitely affects us," he says. Not surprising, then, that English movie channels are working out ways to emerge unscathed by the big league.

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In a bid to ensure viewership for its big ticket movies, PIX has shifted its prime properties to different time slots that compliment the timings of the IPL matches. The 8 pm slot has been shifted to 7 pm and the 10 pm slot has been shifted to 11.30 pm. The IPL matches will be aired at 4 pm and 8 pm.

"We hope to catch viewers between the matches so they can at least watch the movies in bits and pieces and stick on if they like it," Aaron says. The new schedule will be followed until the IPL lasts.

Some of the new movies in the lineup are Slumdog Millionaire, The Da Vinci Code, Outlander, Spiderman 2, The Passion of the Christ and Gandhi, among others.

The channel will cross promote the property - Summer Innings - on SET Max during the IPL matches to ensure tune-ins. Besides, on-ground activation will also be implemented. The 'Hollywood Pix Your Brain' promotional activity that was carried out across six cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Pune and Hyderabad - will be continued during April.

There will be a television commercial which will impart the message of 'enjoy cricket along with movies'. This will run on PIX, the MSM network channels and in theatres, along with promotion on radio. "The idea is to get the eyeballs to PIX when viewers switch channels between matches," says Himmat Bhutalia, head, marketing, PIX.

He says that according to past experience, the viewership of movie channels tends to go up post IPL. "We want to attract the viewer both pre and post the IPL matches," he says.

Recently, HBO launched a new property, the Hollywood Premiere League (HPL), which is a 90 day property that will air Hollywood box office hits every day to counter the IPL mania. The property is being pitched right after the IPL match at 11 pm.