HBO Asia maps out Sri Lanka launch

Cabler tapping into buying power

SINGAPORE — Undeterred by the Asian economic crisis, HBO Asia is planning to expand into Sri Lanka.

The cable channel will team with Ruhuna 2001 Multivision to launch its HBO and Cinemax channels when Multivision starts its 14-channel service on Oct. 1. It will be HBO Asia’s fourth Cinemax launch this year.

Jim Marturano, HBO Asia’s senior VP of sales and marketing, said the company has had its eye on the Sri Lanka market for the last couple of years, pointing to the 1.3 million television households among the population of 20 million, the high literacy rate and the relatively high purchasing power of the people.

HBO will be carried on Multivision’s premium tier and Cinemax channel on the basic service.

“We are confident that the HBO and Cinemax programming will provide unequaled quality and choice for movie fans in Sri Lanka. Cinemax will whet the people’s appetite for HBO blockbusters,” says Marturano of the company’s strategy.

The company expects about 30,000 subscribers a year.

If Sri Lankans take to HBO like the Taiwanese have, the target should be no problem. Cable ratings by A.C. Nielsen, measuring actual viewing in Taiwan, showed that HBO’s blockbuster channel had the highest average rating among the island’s 100 cable channels during primetime seven days a week.

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