AXN's launch in India complements another Sony Pictures-run channel, Sony Entertainment Television, a free-to-air service that has in three years become Asia's No. 2 Hindustani-language satellite broadcaster.
"India has always been a major part of AXN's business plan and we are pleased to bring our 100% action programming to the subcontinent two years ahead of schedule," says James Buklarewicz, Singapore-based CEO of AXN.
The English-language Indian feed will be AXN's fourth service in Asia. The channel debuted September 1997 in Taiwan as a dedicated service for that market. A feed for Japan and another for the rest of Asia are the other AXN franchises in a region that adores action movies and adventure programming. Viewership in Asia barring Japan is estimated at 5 million cabled homes.
A spokesman says AXN has yet to write a rate card for India and only then will begin approaching local advertisers for support. Ongoing efforts are mainly focused on gaining cable distribution and convincing cable operators to pay between 6 and 9 cents for each subscriber.
On the anvil is a full-fledged debut for India's southern neighbor, Sri Lanka. The island nation's hotels currently receive AXN. The channel next month will launch in Spain, followed by a 1999 debut in parts of Europe and Latin America.
Copyright October 1998, Crain Communications Inc.