Sananda TV to tap Bengali market
Jul 25, 2011 (Menafn - Mint - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Sananda TV, the long-awaited Bengali entertainment channel from media house ABP Ltd, will be launched on Monday as it seeks to carve out a share for itself in a crowded market.
ABP publishes Anandabazar Patrika, the Bengali newspaper with the widest readership, The Telegraph and Businessworld. It also operates Star News, a Hindi news channel, in a joint venture--Media Content and Communications Services India Pvt. Ltd (MCCS)--with Star India Pvt. Ltd.
Sananda TV, backed solely by ABP with an investment of '150 crore, is based out of the company's Prafulla Sarkar Street building.
Star India's Star Jalsha is the leader in the Bengali entertainment market with a share of nearly 42%, according to TAM Media Research data. Zee Bangla from the Zee group follows with a 31% share. Other entertainment channels in the language include ETV Bangla, Mahuaa Bangla and Rupashi Bangla.
Sananda TV will fight for a share in the estimated '600 crore Bengali television advertising market that is growing at 30-40% a year.
The launch of Sananda TV wouldn't affect Star's relationship with ABP, said Uday Shankar, chief executive of Star India. "Why should it affect us? You can't speculate on our relationship going awry," he said. MCCS runs two other regional language news channels--Star Ananda in Bengali and Star Majha in Marathi.
Madhumita Chattopadhyay, chief executive of Sananda TV, declined to comment on the relationship with Star India, but said the two companies were partners in news and not entertainment.
"Promos of our channel are running on Star Ananda. In Bengali GECs (general entertainment channels), Star Jalsha has revolutionized the genre with its modern shows for urban audiences and not just the semi-rural and rural population," said Chattopadhyay, who edits Sananda, ABP's Bengali magazine targeted at women. She is also the business head for other magazines in the group, namely Desh, Anandamela, Unish-Kuri and Anandalok.
Sananda TV will start with three hours of original content--six fiction shows--to be aired daily from 7pm onwards. The shows will be "high-decibel entertainers that will subtly touch social issues", Chattopadhyay said.
The GEC, which will be 24x7, has also acquired a library of 50 Bengali films.
In the next 8-10 months, Sananda TV plans to have 11 shows with roughly six-eight hours of original content.
Sananda TV is also working on a talent show based on a format from Fremantle India Television Productions Pvt. Ltd that will be hosted by Bengali film star Prosenjit Chatterjee, Chattopadhyay said, without giving details.
Star Jalsha expanded the market when it entered the segment in 2008, said Sanjay Diwakar, an associate vice-president at Ernst and Young India Pvt. Ltd. "There was a trend shift with Star Jalsha. The content and competition that the channel brought in was immense," he said.
Star Jalsha's programming addresses a younger audience than other channels, according to Kevin Vaz, president of advertising and sales, Star India.
Sananda TV's entry will enhance competition and offer more content and variety to viewers, Diwakar said. "As we speak, there is room for at least 14 more such channels."
It won't be easy for new entrants to make inroads, according to senior executives at rival channels.
"They will find it tough to change the viewing habits of people attuned to some of the existing channels," said Joy Chakraborthy, an executive director at Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, which runs Zee Bangla. High distribution costs, too, are a hurdle. "In order to get a decent placement, a channel has to pay '30 crore a year, not a small amount for a new channel. Plus, there is a huge content cost to compete adequately," he said.
Rupashi and Mahuaa invested heavily in marketing and content, but are yet to gain adequate viewership, he said.
Star India's Vaz concurs.
"Mahuaa Bangla launched with (film star) Bipasha Basu and a football-based show featuring (Brazilian footballer) Ronaldinho. But most channels haven't made rapid inroads," said Vaz.
HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint, competes with ABP in some markets.
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