Thursday, May 03, 2007

Astro Introduces Celebrity Gossip Channel

Among Astro's new channel offerings from the beginning of this month, Malaysians will be able to enjoy a 24 hour celebrity gossip channel.

Astro's nine new channels

Astro added nine new channels to its already huge listing - one new Chinese channel called Jia Yu Channel, two new Tamil channels in Astro Vellithirai and Sun Music, three new Discovery themed channels in Discovery Science, Discovery Home and Health (for mothers), and Discovery Real Time (for those with the Y chromosome), two new sports channels in Eurosport and a 24 hour Golf Channel, and last but not least, E! - the celebrity gossip channel.

Astro's nine new channels

The new Chinese channel Jia Yu is catered more to a younger audience but seriously, don't we already have enough Chinese channels?!? Apart from Astro Wah Lai Toi and occasionally TVB8, the other channels under the Dynasty umbrella remains mostly untouched by most households that subscribe to it. Mind you, it's not cheap to subscribe to the Dynasty package. Subscribing to the Dynasty package alone will set you back RM74.95! And at a minimum subscription of RM49.95 per Astro subscriber, it is no wonder Ananda Krishnan is the second wealthiest man in Southeast Asia. As for the new Tamil channels, I have nothing to comment since I've not watched them due to my lack of understanding for the Tamil lingo.

Astro's nine new channels

The new Discovery themed channels are taken from the UK franchise and like most British programmes, it's a tad boring compared to their American counterparts. The only one I find interesting is Discovery Science. OK, it ain't no Animal Planet or National Geographic but it definitely beats Discovery Home and Health aka The Mothers Channel and Discovery Real Time aka The Alpha Male Channel.

Astro's nine new channels

The introduction of a dedicated Golf Channel and Eurosport definitely adds more choices for sports fans. With the new Golf Channel, I now have the best antidote if I have problems falling asleep. Ten minutes of watching this channel and I'll definitely go into deep sleep.

And finally, we have E! - the ultimate celebrity gossip channel. You can now have lunch with your colleagues and not feel inadequate during their discussions regarding Alec Baldwin's tirade, Boy George's arrest for assault or Britney's (horrible) comeback performance. Isn't that the best brain-drain channel ever?!? I don't know about you but I've had enough of Ryan Seacrest. Seeing him on American Idol and listening to him on AT40 is already bad enough. Now I have to watch him host another show on E! and flirt with Anderson Cooper while hosting Larry King Live?!? I don't think so.

The new channels (along with the eleven launched last year) will be available for free until 31st August 2007, even if you are not subscribed to the packages the channels belong to.

What I would really like to see from Astro is not more channel offerings but a chance to pick and choose which channels you want to subscribe to. As it is, I doubt most households even watch a third of its 75 total channels on offer. Even if they were to charge RM5 per channel (if you decide to pick and choose the channels instead subscribing to a certain package), I would gladly pay. What they could do is to continue offering package subscription but also offer the choice to pick and choose certain channels to supplement the package subscription.

For example, you love movies and subscribe to the Movie package but occasionally you would also like to watch some Chinese drama. So, you add Astro Wah Lai Toi for an extra RM5 instead of having to pay an extra RM20 for the whole Dynasty package on top of the Movie package (RM74.95 compared to RM89.95). This way, those who wants the full spectrum of channels for the Dynasty package will be rewarded with a lower price per channel subscription (~RM3 per channel) for choosing the whole package but those who just want certain channels can still subscribe by paying less subscription fee but a higher price per channel ratio (RM5 per channel) for the individual channels.

In my opinion, such a pricing mechanism may actually spur more subscriptions as those who would never have thought of subscribing to a certain channel will do so when they are able to pick and choose the channels they want and only pay for the channels they know they will watch. Of course, this is only wishful thinking on my part but I do seriously hope Astro would look into the viability of such a scheme.

Wouldn't you subscribe to certain channels you would never have dreamed of subscribing to if such a scheme existed?

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