Prajjal Saha & Devina Joshi

AXN to bank on Indian celebs, local shows

The channel plans to experiment with a tried-and-tested formula of ‘Indian programming with a local celebrity’ with three new shows to be launched in 2005

What is the most common trick that international channels conjour to be successful in India? It's simple: Have a locally produced show and throw in an Indian celebrity as the host.

Be it National Geographic, The History Channel, or STAR World, each of these international channels have tried their luck with this strategy.

‘Koffee with Karan,’ a celebrity chat show, which took STAR World way ahead of its competitors, is a recent example of a show of this genre. Rival channel, AXN, the action-adventure channel from Sony Pictures Entertainment, is also betting on the same plan of action.

AXN is all set to launch a magazine show – ‘Game Max’ – which, for obvious reasons, will be hosted by an Indian celebrity. Although, Ricky Ow, general manager, SPE Networks- Asia, is not willing to reveal the celeb's identity, he is confident that the programme will be a key driver show for AXN.

He says, “In terms of technology, India is growing at a faster pace than the rest of the world. We have already seen the huge following that India has in video, IT or mobile gaming. With ‘Game Max’, we are targeting these hardcore gaming fans, who are typically in the age group of 15-24 years.”

Ow claims that ‘Game Max’ will not be technical at all. Instead, it will be full of juicy gossip and excitement from the gaming world. “This is also why we have brought in a celebrity to host the show,” he adds.

The show also has a reality element in it; with a gaming competition between the viewers and the celebrity. Ow is so confident about the success of this show that he plans to export this show to markets outside India.

While the gaming show will bring in young males, AXN has lined up a lifestyle magazine show for metro males over 25 years. This yet-to-be-named show will focus on the lifestyle of men, with elements such as style, fashion, food, adventure sports, and travel destinations.

Ow further clarifies that in spite of being a locally produced show, the show will also have mix of international content.

“With more Indians now travelling abroad for business as well as pleasure trips, there is also a growing interest on international lifestyles and tourist destinations,” he says. Interestingly, even this lifestyle show will be hosted by a celebrity. “The show will talk about everything that interests metro males over 25 years – be it national or international content.”

With the third locally produced reality show, AXN hopes to bring in mass viewers to the channel. Ow says, “We hope to go down the pyramid of television viewers and bring in SEC B and C as well.”

“We are evaluating a few concepts for the reality show,” Ow adds. However, he is also very quick to clarify that this new show will not be anything close to what Indian television has seen till date. “But, it will certainly carry the AXN signature.”

In addition, two new popular international shows would also be launched for AXN India’s viewers. ‘Las Vegas’ is a fast-paced drama with a story line that revolves around life in a casino.

The other show, ‘Dr. House’ unlike its name, is not a medical show. It is a programme with a blend of comedy, where a doctor attends to patients with weird diseases. Incidentally, this is the first time, when AXN is experimenting with a lighter show.

Regarding movies on AXN, Ow says, “Movies are just to give a judicious mix to our programming. But we are trying to bring exclusive television premieres of Hollywood blockbusters.” To begin with, the channel will air ‘Kung Fu Hustle.’

Rohit Bhandari, director, sales and marketing, SPE Networks-Asia, says, “We have categorically scheduled our movies for Mondays and Tuesdays, the days when the English movie channels generally have weaker titles.”

© 2005 agencyfaqs!

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