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Subtitles, premiers help HBO gain ground

business Updated: Sep 02, 2008 22:08 IST
Radhika Pancholi

After two lean years, Home Box Office (HBO) — which has been part of India's entertainment boom for the past eight years — has bounced back in the English movie entertainment channel space.

“We had set up operations in India about eight years back. The last two years saw us slipping a bit and that's when we got our act together to pull back to the top two position in English movie entertainment channels,” Jonathan Spink, Chief Executive Officer, HBO Asia told Hindustan Times.

According to the latest TRPs released by research agency TAM Media, though Star Movies still holds the top spot with a rating of 38 during the week from August 17 to August 23, HBO is snapping at its heels with a rating of 33 during the said week. Sony Pix and Zee Studio hold the third and fourth ranks with ratings of 12 and 11 respectively.

The introduction of sub-titles during the movie and premiering some top Hollywood films during the year has helped HBO garner the eyeballs to get it to the top two slot in English movie entertainment channels space.

“We realised the difficulty that many Indians have in understanding the English accent and introduced subtitles to all our movies, which have been a real hit” said Spink, adding that they were the first channel in India to premier recent hits such as Spiderman 3 and Ghost Rider to name a few. September will see the channel broadcasting the popular Emmy awards and Spink is optimistic that this would add to the channel's revenue as well as viewership. “With over 250 advertisers and a year-on-year advertising growth of 15-20 per cent, 2008 has been a good year for us in India,” said Spink.

The company, whose flagship channel HBO reaches 28 million households across India is gung-ho about its prospects in the country, which is one of its largest markets in Asia.

“India is one of our two largest markets in Asia and has by far the biggest audience. Our reach is significantly more in India than in other Asian countries. One of the reasons could be that while most Asian countries only like action-packed English movies, the Indian audience has a taste that is changing to lean more towards other genres such as thrillers, dramas and comedies,” he said.