Backed by the powerful Comcast Corp., a new cable network aimed at Asian American viewers will try to tap into what the U.S. Census estimates is $363 billion in spending power.
AZN Television, formerly the International Channel, relaunched yesterday with a pledge to significantly increase its investment in original programming and provide a heavy dose of Asian films, drama, anime, and original series, most of which will air in their original languages with English subtitles.
“Advertisers have told us in the last two years that the Asian-American market is the most desirable audience that can be delivered,” says AZN managing director Steve Smith, who expects to draw especially strongly from automakers, telecommunications, and insurance companies. “This is a way for advertisers to reach this market very efficiently,” he adds, noting that AZN will do much of its promotion in local media targeting Asian populations.
The International Channel, which is in about 10 million homes, had never caught on among cable operators and viewers. Analysts believe that was largely because it tried to appeal to wide a range of ethnic groups instead of focusing on one group. Comcast is betting on the 13.5 million Asian Americans, of whom 85% speak English, according to the U.S. Census.
In the beginning the network will draw on acquisitions from Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, and India, most of which have not been seen in the United States. It will gradually introduce original programming, all of which will be broadcast in English and air on Wednesday nights.