The TV’s just got bigger with 500 channels

Going by the plans of various media houses, the next 12 months will see 500 channels up from the existing 350-odd channels vying to get a share of the already cluttered broadcast market.

And general entertainment channels (GECs) are still the season’s hot favourites. Star India, with 18 channels in the country, has invested $ 100 million to launch six new channels in the next 12 months. The company has already launched Star Jalsha last month and will launch Star Pravah on November 24.

Big TV has more than a dozen channels in entertainment and non-entertainment spaces as part of its digital TV bouquet. NDTV has announced a few non-news channels, and is venturing into youth and kids’ programming.

In this race, special interest channels are also not far behind. “UTV has plans for several niche channels. There will be travel, lifestyle and others, but no GECs,” says a spokesperson from UTV.

Even the Times Global Broadcasting Service has planned a new business channel by the year-end. INX Media, which is yet to complete the launch of its proposed 12 channels in entertainment and news, defends the broadcast boom.

Indrani Mukerjea

“The market isn’t yet cluttered. That’s why we decided to launch our channels in an unsaturated GEC space. The US had 40-odd GECs, and Europe more than 166 in just four countries, at a time when India had only 12 GECs,” says Indrani Mukerjea, CEO, INX Media.

Mukerjea also points out that there are several factors influencing this heightened interest. “Now, advertisers are channelising their spends to reach more viewers with increasing disposable income. Also, the sustained move to digital forms of distribution will soon break a monopolistic structure and release revenue that’s currently denied to broadcasters by cable operators,” she explains.

But is there really a market for these many channels? “An average working person divides his or her time between, news, sports and entertainment channels. GECs are of interest to homemakers and youngsters, but only between 7 pm and 11 pm,” says Lakshmi M, a PhD scholar researching the trends of soap viewership in India.


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