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An overdose of entertainment?

Apr 14, 2000

Two new entities made their forays into broadcasting during the last fortnight and the Hindi general entertainment channel was where the action was concentrated. Sri Adhikari Brothers (SABe TV) and Sahara TV both launched their respective Hindi channels with appropriate noise levels. The question that arises is whether there is scope for any more general entertainment channels particularly, Hindi channels. First of all Doordarshan (the state broadcaster), Zee and Sony seem to have built strong brand equities in this space. Star Plus, which was earlier restricted from doing more than 50% of its programming in Hindi (due to its tie up with Zee) has aggressively invaded this space. It is following the same strategy that Sony had followed earlier, buy out the top Hindi blockbusters and build up mind space till the in–house content is developed. (Sony meanwhile has gone ahead and launched ‘SetMax’ to cover one–off cricketing events and live entertainment programmes, which would flank its flagship channel)

The emerging distribution trolleys
Doordarshan
Network
Zee
Network
Star
Network
Sony
Network
Sun
Network
DD1 Zee TV Star Plus Sony Sun
DDMetro Zee News Star Movies AXN Soorya
DDNews Zee Cinema Star World SetMax Udaya
DDSports Zee English Star Sports   Gemini
15 regional
channels
4 regional
channels-Alpha
Star News    
  Asianet Star English    

Coupled with this, is the fact that the regional channels such as Sun TV and Eenadu TV apart from Doordarshan’s own regional channels are occupying the same space catering to the general entertainment pie.

And if one considers that seven years after the cable and satellite television business took off in the country Doodarshan, Zee, Sony and Sun remain the only profitable broadcasters so far, one can imagine the fate that could befall the ventures of Sri Adhikari and Sahara TV.

The first signs of consolidation are already evident with Zee taking over Asianet with a price tag of Rs 2 bn. The all–stock deal amounted to hardly 0.6% of the market capitalisation of Zee but gave it an entry into Sun’s backyard which earlier had taken over Udaya TV (Kannada TV) and Gemini (Telegu channel).

Going forward, the battlelines seem to be getting more clearly etched. Doordarshan, Zee, Sun, Star and possibly Sony would be the distribution trolleys carrying the two general entertainment channels, Hindi and English apart from a dedicated sports channel, a 24–hour news channel and a clutch of regional channels. Any new broadcaster would have to come out with only niche channels and hitch his bandwagon to any of these distribution trolleys.

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