AXN may have hit bull's eye with reality time band X Zone at 9.00 pm, but that doesn't mean the channel is getting complacent. The action-adventure channel distributed by Sony Entertainment Television (SET) is taking a long hard look at the other major offering during weekdays, namely, the Prime Zone in a bid to increase viewership during this time frame.
The channel has moved the drama series time band from the early evening time slot of 8.00 pm to a "more convenient" 10.00 pm. If this development seems like harakiri to a conventional TV viewer or analyst, Todd Miller, managing director, AXN Asia, has an explanation to offer, "Prime time is getting bigger," he says. "The peak of prime time is moving later into the evening, which means that my audience is peaking late."
If one were to analyse AXN's audience profile then Miller's assessment becomes pretty clear. Targeted primarily at the "attitudinally 20-plus", AXN caters to a niche, upscale, English-speaking audience residing in the metros and mini-metros. "Considering that they are back from work only after 7.00 or 8.00 pm, it was but natural for us to go back to the drawing board and reschedule the time frame so that it fits into their schedule," explains Rohit Bhandari, assistant vice-president, marketing and sales, SET India, who oversees AXN's business interests in the country.
At the same time, the movie time band, which uptil last month was positioned at 10.00 pm on weekdays has moved to the weekends instead. "Sunday is a crucial day when our blockbuster offerings will be telecast," states Miller.
Agrees Bhandari, "Sunday is a natural choice. Our blockbuster acquisitions, Charlie's Angels and Vertical Limit were both telecast over the weekend last year." Incidentally, Charlie's Angels and Vertical Limit, telecast on December 22 and October 26, 2002, were ranked at Nos.12 and 47 in the TAM list of Top 200 shows on AXN last year. The Arnold Schwarzenegger-starrer Predator (which was first telecast on Saturday, January 5, 2002) topped the list with a TVR of 0.7 while Charlie's Angels and Vertical Limit garnered TVRs of 0.4 and 0.3 respectively. (Source: TAM Media Research; T.A: Individuals four years and above in C&S homes across Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad).
These figures have effectively reinforced the belief that movies are best suited for a Saturday and Sunday. Thus, effective this month, the movie band will stretch from 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm and 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm on Saturdays, while on Sundays, the movie band moves into prime time - stretching from 8.00 pm to 10.00 pm and 10.00 pm to 12.00 pm.
But, the most important aspect of the recast is the channel's focus on the Prime Zone. The aim, according to Miller, is to "showcase different series every night of the week that have pedigree and buzz".
What premieres on the channel this month is the multi-award winning drama series 24 on April 8, which went on air in September last year in the US. Based on the fictional character of Jack Bauer, a Counter Terrorism Unit, or CTU operative, the serial has Kiefer Sutherland in the lead with each episode focusing on an hour in the life of Bauer.
Besides, the third season of Crime Scene Investigation, the fast-paced drama about a team of forensic investigators is set to go on air on April 9. Winner of the 2003 People's Choice Award for Best Drama Series and ranked as the No 1 show (ahead of ER and Friends, which appear on ZEE English) on the US prime time ratings chart, it interestingly remains absent in the Top 200 shows on AXN for 2002.
Also to debut on the channel is the fourth season of Pacific Blue on April 7, third season of Relic Hunter on April 10 and the second season of Andromeda on April 11.
Described as Baywatch on wheels, Pacific Blue deals with the lives of the members of the Santa Monica Bike Patrol in California while Relic Hunter is loosely based on Lara Croft - The Tombraider and Andromeda is a sci-fi series.
"Viewership of AXN has been growing on an average of 3 per cent," states Miller. "Three years ago, our viewership was 4 to 5 per cent in the time band of 8.00 pm to 12.00 pm, which today is 9.5 to 9.6 per cent."
Whether the channel can better this figure is anybody's guess. © 2003 agencyfaqs!