Sony in partnership with BBC launches new factual entertainment channel

The new channel Sony BBC Earth will go live on 6 March and will initially showcase 19 hours of original programming every week


Multi Screen Media Worldwide Factual Media, a joint venture between Sony Pictures and BBC Worldwide, also plans to introduce local programming in the country. Photo: AFP
Multi Screen Media Worldwide Factual Media, a joint venture between Sony Pictures and BBC Worldwide, also plans to introduce local programming in the country. Photo: AFP

New Delhi: Television broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) in partnership with BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), on Wednesday launched a new factual entertainment channel Sony BBC Earth in India.

The channel will go live on 6 March and will be part of Multi Screen Media (MSM) Worldwide Factual Media, a joint venture between SPN and BBC Worldwide.

“BBC Worldwide is known to produce top quality factual entertainment content. The channel will showcase best shows of BBC Earth from around the world. The content will also eventually be available on our over-the-top video platform SonyLIV,” said N.P. Singh, chief executive officer at Sony Pictures Networks India.

BBC Earth is the global factual entertainment brand of BBC Worldwide. BBC Worldwide operates around 39 BBC Earth channels across the world. “Indian market is a very important one for us. This is a great opportunity for us. Our research shows that Indian audiences love BBC Earth brand and our factual content. The expertise in story-telling is loved by people in this market,” said Paul Dempsey, president, global markets at BBC Worldwide.

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Sony BBC Earth will be available in four languages— Hindi, English, Telegu and Tamil and will initially showcase 19 hours of original programming every week primarily focused on science, wildlife, natural history and adventure. For starters, the channel will introduce popular shows of BBC Earth like

The Hunt, Where The Wild Men Are with Ben Fogle, Trust Me I’m A Doctor, Snow Chick and Planet Earth II among others.

Going forward, the broadcaster also plans to introduce local programming in the country. In a bid to promote the new channel, Sony BBC Earth has also created a brand film Feel Alivewith Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor Khan. “Our biggest communication is going to be around Feel Aliveand that’s what the channel stands for. We want to create distinct programme slots for the viewers. We want to provide predictability to the viewer so that he knows what to expect when he walks into the channel,” said Saurabh Yagnik, EVP and business head, English cluster, Sony Pictures Networks India.

Sony BBC Earth will primarily compete with National Geographic Partners-owned factual entertainment channels National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild, Discovery Communications-owned Discovery Channel, and History TV18, owned by a joint venture between American media group A+E Networks and Indian media group TV18.

Both Discovery Channel and National Geographic are currently undergoing programming changes. While Discovery is planning to introduce 200 hours of local programming in 2017 (up from five hours last year) and focus on new genres, National Geographic will introduce various scripted series on its flagship channel globally and in India.

Industry estimates suggest that the factual entertainment television market in India is valued at about Rs1,500 crore and is growing at the rate of 13-14% annually. The factual entertainment viewership accounts for 1-1.2% of the total television viewership, according to industry estimates.

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