New Delhi: American broadcaster Discovery Communications is planning to launch a new Hindi general entertainment channel in India called Discovery JEET, in a bid to scale up local programming content across its network.
Discovery JEET, which will be a male-centric channel, plans to offer 200 hours of local programming in 2017. It will premiere a 65-episode scripted biopic series on yoga guru-turned businessman Baba Ramdev, according to a statement released by the broadcaster on Tuesday.
The channel, expected to be launched later this year, will compete with the likes of Star India Pvt. Ltd-owned Star Plus, Sony Pictures Network-owned Sony Entertainment television, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited-run Zee TV and Viacom18 Media’s Colors.
Discovery Communications currently operates 11 factual entertainment channels in India including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery HD World, Discovery Science, Discovery Turbo, Discovery Kids and a sports channel DSPORT.
“In India, male audiences are really underserved. Discovery JEET plans to offer male-centric content which will be fact-driven. Our programming lineup will include dramatic recreations of real stories and will not be fiction. This is an attempt to blur the line between fact and fiction. We are currently finalizing the launch dates,” said Karan Bajaj, senior vice-president and general manager at Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, a division of Discovery Communications.
Other shows of Discovery JEET will include a scripted drama series on Indian military (Saragarhi - India’s Bravest Day), a show on the rap & hip-hop revolution in India (Gabru: The Birth of Hip Hop) and a scripted series on certain underworld characters of Mumbai (Gangs of Mumbai).
This comes as part of the broadcaster’s efforts to introduce a wide range of local programming content on its channels and also push new genres in factual entertainment space. For the year 2017, the broadcaster had planned to introduce new genres like crime, military and inspiration on its existing factual entertainment channels. Earlier in February, Discovery had also launched a sports channel in India—-DSPORT, with a plan to offer 4,000 hours of live sporting content annually.
Ashish Bhasin, chairman and chief executive, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia, said, “Consumers are concerned with content. In any genre, I feel there is a space for no more than three players. We currently have too many players and there will be some sort of consolidation at a later stage. Who wins will largely depend on the content and that too sustainable content.”
According to estimates from media buyers, the Hindi general entertainment ad market is estimated to be a Rs10,000 crore market. The overall Indian television viewership is currently dominated by channels like Star Plus, Colors, Zee TV and Sony’s free-to-air channel Sony Pal.
For the year 2016, the viewership share of general entertainment channels stood in the range of 55-60%, followed by movies which accounted for 22-25%, according to a March report titled ‘Media for the masses: The promise unfolds’ by consulting firm KPMG and lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).