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Pix: From classics to blockbusters

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | July 21, 2010
In a bid to broaden its audience base, Pix now wants to play in the league of STAR Movies and HBO, telecasting blockbuster movies

In a bid to aim for the larger pie, Pix has decided to change its focus from being a premium English movie channel known for airing classic Hollywood movies, to one that airs current and blockbuster movies. In fact, the shift began last year, when the channel aired Oscar-winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire.

& #BANNER1 & #Talking about the new strategy, Pix business head, Sunder Aaron says, "It's a step-up in strategy, not a change. We have accelerated the process of transforming our channel. The intention was always to make it a current movie channel, and the seeds of that were sown last year."

This year, the channel wants to get more aggressive with its new positioning. For that, it has already donned a slicker and more contemporary look. Besides, blockbuster movies such as Hurt Locker and District 9 have been lined up.

When it was launched, the channel enjoyed a clear distinction of being a premier English movie channel that would air classics. About why the channel is changing its positioning, Aaron says that a brand could be launched with a certain positioning, but could evolve into something else.

"When we launched the channel, we always knew where we would take it. We needed to launch with a lot of library movies, because the economics demanded it. Now that we have built a solid base of viewers over the last few years, and the channel has thrived and done well, we decided to reinvest in it," he explains.

While the library movies are still on the channel, they are neither as predominant, nor are they scheduled on primetime as frequently as they were earlier. Aaron admits that in order to play the real big game, blockbuster movies was the way to go.

"Advertisers and viewers flock to channels that air current blockbuster movies. We want to get a larger share of the English movie genre, aiming for 25 per cent share, and play in the league of HBO and STAR Movies," he says.

As of this year, STAR Movies commands an average share of 42 per cent, followed by HBO, which holds 28 per cent (Jan-Jun 2010, C&S, 15+, all India). Pix currently holds 14 per cent share.

With its old positioning, Pix attracted a sizeable chunk of older viewers. In order to attract younger viewers, the Pix movie club was launched, which screens big Hollywood releases at reduced prices for students in various cities. The channel also plans to get another season of the Football Association Challenge Cup, popularly known as the FA Cup, in order to widen its reach.

Pix, Aaron claims, has the clear advantage of being the only Indian Hollywood channel. "Unlike other channels, Pix is made in India, for India, by Indians. We programme our channels here and that's a big advantage we have," he says. Movies around Indian themes will also find their way to the channel.

Current movies will take the front seat for Pix from now on. The channel is also slated to launch a brand campaign towards the end of September to strengthen its positioning in the market.