Exclusive | AXN uses magic to strengthen India focus

Magic gets more magical on Indian TV! Sony AXN, one of the leader among English channels in the general entertainment category (GEC) space, is planning to present more international offerings for its Indian viewers. The channel has recently launched ‘Cyril’s Family Vacation’ for its Indian viewers. A departure from the traditional street magic series that established Cyril, the new show features a fresh and innovative way of magic storytelling. With one of Japan’s award winning special effects make-up teams at work, each character is brought to life with striking and convincing realism. Set against the scenic beauty of Hawaii, the series is an addictive magical social experiment that tests the limits of what is and is not possible. 
According to Ricky Ow, Executive Vice President, Networks, Asia, Sony Pictures Television, in a fragmented market, it is extremely important to give a unique offering to a wider audience. “The English-speaking audience in India  is not a small audience and it continues to grow,” Ow said.
With the AXN brand being strong  in India and with its clear positioning, the channel is adding some original programming, some of which have a strong Indian focus.
Citing ‘Cyril’s Family Vacation’, Ow said, “Although it is an international series it is also relevant to India since magic is universal and is family entertainment. Going forward, we will invest in many such kinds of programming that is relevant and makes sense. If there is a need to be fulfilled and somebody is not doing it, than we may do it.” 
During the remaining period of 2012, AXN has some six new shows in the pipeline, some of which are original in content with high production values. One of its major productions is the series, ‘Hannibal’ a sort of prequel to the famous movie ‘Silence of the Lambs’.
The channel is also strengthening its prime-time focus with relevant shows. With the cost of television sets coming down and many Indian homes today opting for a second TV, the opportunity in this slot is high. AXN is trying to constantly stay in tune with the audience preferences, competitors' offerings etc. “One needs to work with this in mind”, Ow said. When digitization kicks in, it will give it an opportunity to provide more content and add value to its viewers. It may also consider launching new channels but Ow refused to elaborate on this. 
AXN is also active on the social networking sites and has recently launched a Facebook page. “It will help us gauge viewers responses,” said Ow.  He added that it was always a challenge to maintain the number one spot and stay ahead of the competition. “Every year we spend heavily on marketing in India. In a fiercely competitive market we need to be heard and taken notice of to cut through the  clutter,” he said.

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