Home / Companies / Imagine TV to shut down as viewership declines

New Delh: Imagine TV is to shut down, marking the end of Turner International’s second attempt at running a Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC), after failing to boost its popularity with viewers.

Real, a joint venture with Alva Brothers Entertainment and Turner’s first bid to run such a channel, was closed in 2010. Turner International India Pvt. Ltd announced its decision to close Imagine as well as Imagine Dil Se, the channel’s international feed.

Turner, a unit of Time Warner Inc. that operates television channels such as Cartoon Network, Pogo, CNN, HBO and WB in India, acquired Imagine from NDTV Networks Plc in 2009 for an estimated $126.5 million. The Hindi GEC came with Lumiere, a world cinema channel, and Imagine Showbiz, a film entertainment and music channel. Both were shut down earlier.

Rakhi Sawant in Swayamvar

According to TAM Media Research’s latest ratings (week 14), Imagine had a gross rating point of 64, ahead only of Sahara at 46 and way behind market leader Star Plus at 271. “Although we had three successful seasons of the marriage reality show Swayamvar featuring people like Rakhi Sawant and Rahul Mahajan, and a hit serial like Bandini, I think what was missing was the consistency of ratings—crucial in a GEC," Jain said.

The entry of Colors six months after Imagine’s launch, increased competition. Colors, from the Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd stable, invested in programming that worked with viewers and even displaced Star Plus from the No.1 slot for a time. “In this genre, once a channel loses momentum, it is very difficult to stop the decline," said a former Colors executive.

A senior Imagine executive, who quit some time ago, said the channel was losing approximately 200 crore a year. Jain declined to comment on the losses.

Turner’s other businesses in India are profitable. “The other businesses are mature, clocking a healthy double-digit growth with 50% margins," Jain said.

He said some of the 150 employees of Imagine will be absorbed by Turner’s other channels in India. “Also, the signal will continue for a while to honour the business terms of our production partners and vendors, and to meet the regulatory requirement," he said.

Originally launched in January 2008 by Prannoy Roy’s NDTV Networks in a joint venture with NBCUniversal, Imagine was steered by former Star Plus chief executive Sameer Nair, who left the company in May 2011.

Imagine is the fourth Hindi entertainment channel to close in the last four years after 9X, Real and ZeeNext.

Aminah Sheikh contributed to this story.


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