November 2010
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The English Uprising

AXN premiered season 8—and last—of hit series 24, starring Keifer Sutherland and Anil Kapoor, post-Slumdog Millionaire glory, in August last year in India, barely three months after its run in the US; Star Movies’ India business is now totally handled by India, unlike before when it was centrally controlled by Hong Kong; Zee has seen its English channels bouquet expand its reach in tier-II and III cities; Discovery Networks' new launch in India this year, Discovery Science, is viewed in 16 million homes. With viewership trends changing, it’s not only general entertainment channels that are exploring new content, English channels, too, are aggressively updating the fare they offer to grab eyeballs.

“TV watching is evolving. People have become more and more discerning and with lifestyle aspirations going up, the feel and look of television has become more international,” says Saurabh Yagnik, GM, (English channels), Star India. In keeping with that trend, the content too is evolving. “The English channels still make up a small piece of the entire TV pie, but the potential is tremendous,” he adds. With the tribe of English-speaking population growing, the relative share of English channels is disproportionately low at just under 3%.

Rahul Johri, senior VP and GM, India, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, says channel ratings have grown 27% over last year. “Young, urban, educated India has a tremendous appetite to know more,” he says, adding that the audience is pulling it—the slew of new shows, channels and content. The response to its premium offering, Discovery HD World, too, has been ‘fantastic’. Discovery India launched Discovery HD World in India on April 1 – it had been launched in Japan in 2005. “There’s a mix of nature and wildlife, travel and lifestyle in HD World, and 85-90% of the content is unique,” Johri points out.

All the English movie channels too have spiced up their content. If Star Movies has had a Bond festival recently, PIX showcased latest films like Michael Jackson’s This is it and Oscar winner The Hurt Locker. “The year 2009 proved to be a watershed year for PIX,” says Sunder Aaron, business head, PIX, which was launched in India in 2006. “Two films (Slumdog Millionaire and Ong Bak 2 ) were the highest rated films in the year. Slumdog is the highest rated movie on an English movie channel in the past four years. This year, with great titles such...

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