A still from the television show ‘Game of Thrones’. HBO Defined will air content from HBO’s content catalogue that includes shows such as ‘Entourage’ and ‘Game of Thrones’. (A still from the television show ‘Game of Thrones’. HBO Defined will air content from HBO’s content catalogue that includes shows such as ‘Entourage’ and ‘Game of Thrones’.)
A still from the television show ‘Game of Thrones’. HBO Defined will air content from HBO’s content catalogue that includes shows such as ‘Entourage’ and ‘Game of Thrones’.
(A still from the television show ‘Game of Thrones’. HBO Defined will air content from HBO’s content catalogue that includes shows such as ‘Entourage’ and ‘Game of Thrones’.)

HBO Asia and Eros launch two ad-free pay channels in India

HBO Defined, HBO Hits to be priced at `100 per month and will be available only through digital TV platforms

Mumbai: Bollywood movie producer Eros International Media Ltd and Hollywood movie broadcaster HBO Asia are to launch two movie channels—HBO Defined and HBO Hits—for pay television audiences in India.

The channel will not carry advertising and will be available only through digital TV platforms, together priced at around 100 a month, the companies said at a press conference on Thursday. The channels will go on air early next year.

HBO Defined will air content from HBO’s catalogue that includes shows such as Entourage and Game of Thrones, besides international and Hindi movies. HBO Hits will show Hollywood and Bollywood movies. The Hindi movies for both channels will be provided by Eros, which has more 1,000 titles in its catalogue.

The companies will also develop HBO’s existing show formats for India and create original content for the local television market.

Based in Singapore and with offices in Taiwan and India, HBO Asia is a joint venture of HBO (a Time Warner company) and Paramount. HBO Asia runs five subscription-based movie channels—HBO, HBO Signature, HBO Family, HBO Hits and Cinemax—in both SD (standard definition) and HD (high definition) formats. In addition, it offers video on demand services under HBO On Demand.

HBO and Eros plan to launch more pay channels in the India market.

“We see immense potential in the pay TV segment in India, with the advent of digitization. We hope to capture the Indian market with some of the content we offer through our network channels," said Jonathan Spink, chief executive of HBO Asia.

According to a 2012 media and entertainment report by lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and consultancy KPMG, the overall television industry in 2011 was estimated to be around 329 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 17% over five years to 735 billion in 2016. “The share of subscription to the total industry revenue is expected to increase from 65% in 2011 to 69% in 2016," the report states.

India is the third largest TV market after the US and China, with 146 million television households, the report said.

According to Kishore Lulla, executive chairman of Eros International Plc, the holding company of Eros International Media Ltd, the new initiative is not capital intensive.

“Considering we already have a library of films, and so does HBO there is not much investment in content," he said. “Under the alliance, Eros and HBO will equally share revenues that are generated from subscription, after having deducted operation costs."

With the advent of digitization, more television companies will be encouraged to launch niche channels for pay TV viewers.

“Television broadcasters are now more confident of launching ad-free channels because of the digital addressable system roll-out," said said Jehil Thakkar, head of media and entertainment at consulting company KPMG. “Channel networks can now consider working on a subscription only model."

According to data provided by TV measurement agency TAM Media Research, the genre share of Hindi movie channels grew from 12% in 2011 to 13% until September 2012. The English movie channel genre however has been flat at 1%.

Shares of Eros International Media Ltd rose 1.77% to 221.6 Thursday on the BSE Ltd, while the benchmark Sensex rose 0.49% to 19,486.80 points.

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