AXN toons up anime sibling Animax

Station 'not a kids channel,' ready for competish

SINGAPORE — Sony Pictures Entertainment’s action and adventure AXN channel is welcoming a sibling to Asian pay TV — 5-month-old Animax, the first 24-hour anime cartoon channel launched outside of Japan.

Sony Pictures Television Intl. (SPTI) newly promoted senior veep and managing director Asia Todd Miller denies that Animax is a spin-off, describing it as “very much a channel in its own right with so much potential to be a market leader in Asia — on par with AXN.”

Anime was once a staple on AXN, but Miller denies that Animax is cannibalizing content or auds.

“Anime does not have the role on AXN it had back in 1997” when it bowed, says Miller, “due to the increased strength of U.S. content over the past few years.”

Indeed AXN’s action and adventure remit has been built on shows like “Fear Factor,” “CSI” and a version of “Who Dares Wins” created for India.

With 24-hour distribution in 31 million homes and day-part in 40 million homes in China, AXN is way ahead of Animax, entering at a time of a capacity crunch in many markets.

Its 4 million homes in Japan aside, Animax has signed up 1.6 million homes in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia sinces its bow in January.

Animax will be distribed in India by One Alliance, a Sony-Discovery joint venture.

“We are employing an aggressive roll-out strategy for Animax,” says Miller, “but this is not a kids channel and we’re aware there’s a lot of competition out there.”

It’s deja vu for Miller whose April promotion sees him keep his current role overseeing AXN and Animax and re-assume his former role, heading up SPTI licensing, network operations and local language productions for the region.

Relocating to SPTI HQ in Hong Kong later in the year, Miller replaces his original successor in that role Dewy Ip, who is rumored to be returning to Hong Kong’s TVB.