Sunder Aaron, Business Head, Sony PIX tells 4PS B&M about The English Movie Genre Segment and his Future course of action for The Channel.

Sony PIX started off on a ubiquitous April 1, 2006 and went on to compete belligerently with Star Movies and HBO. PIX has had the historical advantage of being able to pull movies from the Columbia and MGM roster; a roster – of unconventional lineups – made it number 3 in its category. A research conducted by TAM Media Research in 2010 revealed that Sony PIX showcased more premiers than Star Movies, subsequently resulting in an 8% market share. The recently introduced High Definition (HD) format has given more dope to the segment dynamically altering the competitive landscape. However, till the time HD reaches a formidable number of viewers, there’s nothing much to fear. Sony had appointed Sunder Aaron as Business Head way back in 2006. Sunder had made quite a mark then for his AXN initiatives (‘The Man’s World Show’ being one). Through the years, Sunder has understood the landscape much better. And 4Ps B&M met up with Sunder to understand the hows, whats and wherefores of it all...

After having worked across various global economies, you’ve been looking after the business at Sony PIX for quite a long time. What is your outlook with regards to the Indian market?
India is an extremely dynamic market. It’s a challenging place for distributing revenues. Developed markets are seemingly different. You cut a deal with the operator who tells the number of subscribers they have and how many of them you’ll be able to reach to. That doesn’t happen in India.

What are your views on incorporating Indian content in English movie vhannels? Is such a development worth the effort?
We are the only English movie channel which has incorporated local original programming in India. We do have our own benchmarks for deciding the content. For instance, we showcased Cyrus and 15 Park Avenue. It works as an opportunity to raise standards.

With strong competition around, Sony PIX came in relatively late. You competed well, but still lag behind at fourth position. What is the strategy ahead?
We are right in the middle of a transformation. The basic idea behind Sony PIX was a more contemporary channel. So we went through a thorough analysis comparing our on air elements to competitions and then redesigning the channel to what it is now. Probably, the viewer might not be able to articulate the differences we made to the menu and the fonts, but it does make its way to the subconscious. We have been and will be aggressive on the acquisition of movie studios and properties. An extensive focus on BTL activities like concerts will also help us in the long term.

You primarily target viewers in the age group of 18-44 years. This encompasses segments with different tastes and preference for movies. Don’t you think it is a challenge to maintain balance while catering to such a diverse set of audience?
We are revamping our library with a view to push the average age to 15-20 years old. Sony PIX already has one of the most coveted line up movies including all time favourites like Jerry Maguire. Now, we are focussing on bringing movies like The Forbidden Kingdom. A channel should raise the bar as per the viewers standards and that is what we are attempting to do.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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