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MNX is a genre that we are evangelising for the future: Vivek Srivastava

A little over a year after its launch, Movies Now 2, the fourth English movie channel from Times Network, is all set to get quirky by adding the X -Factor to the brand. The channel has unveiled its new brand identity as MNX and is ready to charter its own course. 

To fuel its new identity, MNX has rolled out new movie properties such as Xtreme Nights Weeknights (Monday to Friday, 9 pm), Wild Ones Weeknights (Monday to Friday, 11 pm), and Bad Ass Weekends (Saturday and Sunday, 9 pm), among others. 

The channel will have a special movie festival – Xterminator – during Dussehra (September 21 - September 30), which will showcase movies like ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, ‘The Mechanic’, ‘Hobbit’ and ‘Journey to the centre of the Earth’, to name a few. MNX will also give its viewers a chance to win gadgets daily with MNX Get Lucky Contest as part of their Watch and Win Movie Festival. 

Vivek Srivastava, Executive Vice President & Head Entertainment Cluster, Times Network, commented, “In a competitive market like India, it is important that a channel disrupts the status quo to leave its mark. Movies Now 2 has been a disrupter in the English movie space. From creating a vibrant viewership base out of its own existing library assets and distribution relationships, the channel has come a long way. With MNX, we look to bring the next level of Hollywood entertainment to India. As we move to the next stage of content with MNX, we plan to expand our viewership and capture the mindscape of the millennials, the change of brand name to MNX is an attempt to attract our audience to something that matches their definition of cool.” 

As per a press note, since its launch, Movies Now 2 has consistently grown from 1,200 TVTs to 2,000 TVTs in less than 6 months and now, within a year, it has crossed 3,000 TVTs. As per BARC ratings for Week 27 [6 Mega Cities : NCCS AB : 2+ Individuals], Movies Now 2 garnered 3,054 Weekly Impressions (000s) and led the English movies space. 

In conversation with Adgully, Vivek Srivastava speaks at length about the need to rebrand Movies Now 2, the channel’s performance so far, the content strategy in its rebranded avatar, marketing push for the channel and much more. Excerpts: 

What was the need to rebrand Movies Now 2, since the channel has been doing well on the ratings front?
The channel has taken off really well. We invested in the content part later to make the proposition far stronger. The communication that we are doing from content standpoint is working very well. However, the name of the channel is lending itself from the mother brand. While the mother brand is fantastic, it is still a mass brand. Whereas we would want this brand to be new age, edgy and say something unique. While the communication was saying that, the brand name wasn’t saying the same thing. Therefore, there was little bit of a disconnect in the consumers’ minds. Hence, we decided to give the channel its own identity and name. There’s no better time to do the rebrand – the numbers are ramping up and we have the content that is strong enough to take this viewership forward. Therefore, we wanted to do it while we are at the top. 

This rebranding is actually a part of our entire corporate strategy, where we are focussing very heavily on the next wave of content. There is always scope for any new entrant. Mirror Now has proved that new is what will sell and new will challenge the old, therefore we thought that Movies Now 2 also deserves a unique identity of its own. 

While MNX is continuing with ‘Moviegasm’ and ‘Swagnights’, which were among the four programming properties introduced by Movies Now 2, why not the other two?
‘Moviegasm’ and ‘Swagnights’ are iconic and these two properties are pretty much in sync with the new name as well. We have been pushing these properties in the 9 pm and 11 pm time slots, respectively. Brand names take a lot of time to establish from a consumer viewpoint. So far, Movies Now 2 has been considered just an extension of Movies Now, but an iconic property like ‘Moviegasm’ at 9 pm has helped the channel resonate with the viewers, and it has taken a lot of pain to establish that from a consumer perspective. We have always been in the No. 1 or No. 2 slots in those time bands. So it made sense for us to continue with these properties. 

How long did the rebranding process take?
We have been thinking about it ever since we overtook HBO in the month of February. We realised that the traction is there. It made sense for us to be consistent in our performance and also in our investment and our future outlook. Now that we have showcased that, we decided to call it a distinct name and go ahead with the numbers. 

How has Movies Now 2’s performance been in the last one year?
We started with around 1,200 TVTs and quickly moved up to 1,800 TVTs. In the last 4-6 months, we have been consistently between 1,800 TVTs and 2,200 TVTs, which is 2,000+ TVTs on an average. We have consistently been above HBO in most of the weeks, at least from mid-February onwards. During Goafest, it was six weeks of our leadership over HBO. So we have been among the top four players. In the past four weeks, we have crossed 3,000 TVTs once. Latest week, too, we have been at No. 1. 

What about ad sales?
From the ad sales perspective, the size of the English movies space is about Rs 600 crore-Rs 700 crore. In the English channel set, English movies is the largest in terms of viewership and audience segregation standpoint. In terms of TVTs, it would be close to about 15,000-16,000 TVTs. 

At this point of time, we have 30 per cent of the viewership – one-third of the entire English Entertainment space. We would want a fair share of that pie, that is, one-third of the revenue pie as well. 

How challenging is it to communicate to the viewers about the rebranding?
There’s only one way to tell the viewers, which is by upping the ante and that is what we have done with our content. We want the viewers to come and sample us more than before and that’s why we have brought libraries like Disney. We are bringing in great titles and are ensuring that we are engaging with our consumers through activations like ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Call X’, where viewers get to select one movie in a week from a select set of movies. 

For MNX, the target audience will be the same (15-30 age group). Metros are the key segments, which constitute almost 50 per cent of the market. But we will certainly go beyond the metros. Moreover, the newer money which is coming in the English space is not actually from the metro markets. They are already saturated. It’s the other markets which have been contributing more. 

If you want to change the brand name, it is always advisable to do it sooner than later, which will help in the long run. We certainly felt that Movies Now 2 was not doing justice to the identity or the cloud that the brand was creating. 

Post this rebranding how are you creating a clear demarcation between Movies Now, MNX, Romedy Now and MN+?
Typically, when you move to English entertainment, you move from Hindi entertainment or regional. At least that’s where the first generation of audience that moved into the English entertainment space came from. Movies Now is like a masala brand that airs Hollywood blockbusters like ‘The Expendables’ or ‘Fast and Furious’. When you consume this content over a period of time, you start realising your preferences. 

Then there are viewers who prefer romantic comedies. For them we have created the brand Romedy Now. 

There is also a segment of viewers who look beyond action thrillers. For them, Cinema is also about great storytelling. Thus, we have the platform MN+, where you will find movies like ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, ‘The Reverent’, ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Boyhood’. 

Also, there are these segments which are emerging within the space which are slightly ahead of the curve. For them we have created a brand like MNX, which will talk about movies that have created their own identity and space, but not just limited by the power of storytelling. It’s almost like an alter ego of Movies Now. Here, you will find movies like ‘The Hangover’, ‘Kill Bill’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Fight League’, which have attained cult status and have a universal appeal. 

What is happening on the Romedy Now front?
We have signed on the Disney library, which has been a great addition to our Romedy Now offering. As a channel, Romedy Now has been a great launch for us because it was the first brand that told us that segmented brands in this country can work. Prior to Romedy Now, everything was just masala brand. The success of Romedy Now, both from viewership perspective and business point of view, encouraged us to launch two more brands – MNX and MN+, which have been purely segmented brands in the market. Currently, there is no competition in the genre that we created with Romedy Now. With MNX, too, from a viewership standpoint, we are looking at a genre that we are evangelising for future.

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