HBO claims to be the leading English movie channel, based on the TAM ratings of the blockbuster movies
It seems claiming to be the number one channel in its genre has become a new trend in the television industry. HBO is the latest broadcaster to do so, when it claimed to be the leading English movie channel, based on the TAM ratings of the blockbuster movies.
As per TAM Media Research, HBO showed the three highest rated movies across movie channels in the 12-month period between September 2003 and August 2004. The three movies are Spider-man, The Mummy Returns and The Mummy. The channel also claims that seven out of the top 10 English movies were shown on HBO.
With viewership of movie channels totally driven by movie titles, it's apparent the blockbuster movies have scored for the channel.
Jonathan Spink, CEO, HBO Asia says, "The joint ownership of HBO by Hollywood's top four studios - Warner Bros, Paramount, Universal and Sony - helps us bring the latest and biggest Hollywood movies to the Indian audience."
As the viewership of movie channels is title driven, the viewership of competitive channels also move up whenever these show their own blockbuster movies. That explains why the channel share of movie channels keep on fluctuating between weeks, depending on the titles.
In a single year, HBO shows almost 30 new movies in a month which means 360 movies in a year. Spink says, "There are many good movies produced in Hollywood to be aired exclusively on television and we try to maintain the freshness of our programming with these titles. Our set of premieres contain traditional made-in-Hollywood movies along with movies made for TV."
He adds, "It's not feasible to buy so many blockbusters and in fact, Hollywood doesn't even produce so many movies in a year."
The channel has lined up a few blockbuster movies in the Diwali season and these will be aired till the end of this year. The forthcoming attractions are ‘Ocean's Eleven', starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts; ‘Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle' and ‘The Lord of the Rings'.
By the end of the year, the channel will telecast movies such as ‘HBO 2004 Blockbuster Marathon' with movies like ‘Spy Kids III', ‘Rush Hour II', ‘Stuart Little II', amongst others.
Talking about the Indian market, Spink said that India is a very important market for the channel as it is the only market where the channel has a dual revenue stream - advertising and subscription, whereas in other Asian countries, revenue only comes from subscription.
Spink also mentioned that they are very close to break-even in the Indian market and hopefully by the next fiscal, HBO India will be a profitable venture.
Incidentally, HBO has a second channel for the Asian market - Cinemax, which airs more of action and thriller movies. Responding to a query on the possibility of its India launch, Spink says, "HBO doesn't have any plans to launch Cinemax in India as of now. One needs to explore the commercial prospects before launching a channel in India." He added, "The Indian market is not mature enough to have genre-specific movies channel. However, the scenario is likely to change when DTH (direct-to-home) becomes predominant."
Talking about the the choice of Indian viewers, Spink said that it is not different from the viewers from the rest of the world. "All of them prefer action movies." On matters of nudity and violence, Spink said that the channel believes in self censorship in Asia keeping the Asian culture in mind.
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