Anushree Bhattacharyya

HBO to increase focus on content in 2011; signs deals with more than 15 movie companies

In 2011, HBO turns into a one stop shop for movie lovers as the channel brings content from across the globe.

With the completion of 10 years in India, English movie channel HBO is set to increase its focus on content in 2011. In an effort to bring new and first time content to Indian homes, HBO has signed a deal with more than 15 movie companies, in addition to the existing deals with Warner Brothers, Paramount and Universal.

Shruti Bajpai, country manager, HBO South Asia, says, "2011 will be a very significant year for HBO as we move ahead after completing a decade in India. The focus will be on increasing content and for that, we have signed deals with movie companies such as Lions Gate, Inferno, Summit, Dreamworks, MGM, WEE and CBS Films."

HBO to increase focus on content in 2011; signs deals with more than 15 movie companies
The channel claims that it will turn into a one stop shop for movie lovers and for viewers who like to watch content from the West, as more than 50 per cent of blockbusters, which includes top 25 movies of the year such as Hangover, 2012, Iron Man 2, Shrek 4 and Transformers 2, will be aired on the channel.

The channel will also show critically acclaimed and popular movies such as Invictus, Blindside, Up in the Air and Sex and the City, apart from telecasting franchise of movies such as Harry Potter, James Bond and Rocky.

Apart from blockbusters, HBO will also bring some of the popular content made by the channel in the West, including Spartacus, Board Walk Empire, Hung and the fourth season of True Blood.

Meanwhile, HBO's deal with Sony Pictures will end this year and Pix has signed an exclusive deal with the movie company. Bajpai adds, "HBO's USP lies in the fact that it is the first one to bring some of the best content to the Indian viewer and we are confident about our positioning in the market."

Interestingly, the English movie channel will concentrate on the digital platform to promote the brand as well as new movies in the coming year. According to Bajpai, the focus will be a lot more on digital, especially on social networks as HBO would like to be in constant touch with young viewers. Currently, HBO has 180,000 Facebook fans.

Marketing will no longer be about dividing the spend amongst all media and launching a campaign at the same time. She elaborates, "We will segment the viewers on the basis of availability and will use a proper medium to talk to the viewer. For example, in case of using radio, we will talk to those people who travel to office in the morning and listen to FM on the way, while in the case of the young audience, we will rely more on social networks to gain their feedback as well to connect to them."

HBO claims that it has witnessed 15 per cent growth in advertising revenue in 2010 and currently has a market share of 33 per cent. The network runs a variety of channels such as HBO Signature, HBO Family and HBO Hits in the international markets. When quizzed about the network's plans for India, Bajpai replies, "It is true that in India, the English market is opening up now - be it entertainment or movies. However, currently, there are no plans to launch another channel in the country."

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