Monday, November 24, 2014

Cable channel has new name, lines up original Filipino shows

(Nov. 3, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Formerly known as AXN Beyond, cable channel beTV metamorphosed into Sony Channel in mid-October, a change expected to bring in more viewers who recognize the brand, according to Hui Keng “HK” Ang, senior vice president of Sony Pictures Television Asia.

“The Sony Channel has been in Asia for a while,” Ang said at the recent launch in Makati. “It was first launched in Latin America about 15 years ago.”

Sony, he added, will be “female-skewing,” but clarified that it will still be male-inclusive—there are shows for male viewers in the current lineup as well.

Ang’s colleague Jennifer Doig, Sony’s executive director for marketing, English content and communications, elaborated that the name change was inevitable: “The Sony brand is very powerful, globally… we really felt that the timing was right to refresh beTV and let it evolve into Sony Channel. The power of [the brand] is [calculated to] appeal to a very demanding audience here in the Philippines.”

In the roster of new shows are American programs “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Madam Secretary” and “Manhattan Love Story.” According to Ang, Sony Channel will air new episodes shortly after their initial US telecasts.

Older shows in the lineup include “Millionaire Matchmaker,” “Minute to Win It” and “Nashville.”

“Content is the key,” Ang stressed. “Sony is going to be fully strengthened by more new shows.”

Ang, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the absence of some Sony channels in the Philippines. So far, he said, only Sony Channel, AXN and Animax are currently airing here.

“It’s not enough. In [other parts of] Asia, there are six [Sony] channels. There are a few other brands that we have not officially introduced in this market for various reasons. We’re working on that. But having strong English-content channels that complement each other for this market, where Hollywood content is very popular and well-accepted, [is unique].”

Like other general entertainment channels in the region, Sony Channel will create shows meant to appeal to, and feature Filipinos, according to Gidget Policarpio-Lao, director and business head of AXN Networks Philippines, Inc.

“It’s in the pipeline,” she said. “AXN, for example, has been doing [reality competition series] ‘Apprentice Asia’… we will do the same thing for Sony. We’re going to do local productions. We’re looking at reality programs and talk shows.”

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