Sep 5, 2008
Entertainment - HBO mulls english subtitles for entire library
Singapore-based Home Box Office Asia, which runs English movie channel HBO in India, will introduce English subtitles for its entire movie library by next year.The channel has already started airing movies with English subtitles in the prime-time slot. Jonathan Spink, chief executive officer, HBO Asia, said all movies aired on the channel would be completely subtitled by the end of this year. Currently, HBO is the second-most popular English movie channel in India with 35% share, second only to Star Movies that has a 41% share. HBO hopes that the move will help attract more viewers as it fights to retain and grow its share in the international movie channel space, which has seen the entry of new players such as Sony Pix, UTV and World Movies. NDTV Lumiere and Turner?s English channels are also slated for launch soon. Spink said he wasn?t too worried about the entry of new channels. ?They haven?t affected us at all. I don?t think new players will matter. When the market becomes more and more cluttered, audiences will prefer sticking to channels that they already know,? he said. In India, HBO is available in about 28 million homes, and digitisation will help increase this number further. ?It?s been very good for HBO in terms of ad revenues. Our move for English subtitles is not merely to add new viewers, we also want to make English movie-viewing an easy proposition for audiences, considering English accents can be tough to transcribe for Indian audiences,? Spink said. Currently, UTV World Movies provides English subtitles for its entire library while Zee Studio and Star Movies use it selectively. Spink said HBO was also looking at launching more channels in India. ?A channel for English movies dubbed in Hindi is also something we?ve been thinking of. We also see no reason why a movie channel free of any ads shouldn?t work in India. Someone will have to pay for the content, though. But considering that people?s disposable incomes are increasing, it might look much easier to implement it than we think it is,? he said. The channel has already screened some popular movies dubbed in Hindi on the Independence Day such as Superman Returns, Spiderman 3, Mission Impossible 3 and The Mummy. Several Hindi movie channels such as Sony Max and Star Gold and general entertainment channels are also using a similar ploy to improve their television rating points (TRPs). UTV Global Broadcasting runs Bindass Moviez, that shows English movies dubbed in Hindi. Shruti Bajpai, country manager, HBO (South Asia), said, ?We have observed that Indian audiences consume mainstream Hollywood films better when they see them in their own language. So, we are also thinking of a similar strategy to expand in the future.?