UTV's Hungama TV is joining hands with STAR for distribution. The move implies various things on Indian television. One, it is the completion of the first stage of the new kids' channel, which offers 100 per cent Indian content. Second, for the first time, STAR is distributing a channel it doesn't own and, third, STAR has dropped its plans of STAR Kidz, the children's channel it was planning to launch, for a while.
On why has STAR decided to back out from STAR Kidz, Sameer Nair, COO, STAR India, informs, "There is too much work happening in the organisation already. And then UTV is putting together a kids' channel, which will be in Hindi and Tamil. This is the only segment we don't have in our bouquet so it makes sense to fit the two together and have the channel on our distribution platform."
Speaking on the alliance, Ronnie Screwvala, CEO, Hungama TV, expresses, "We share an excellent relation with STAR. One of the biggest strengths the network has is its distribution. Getting on this platform means that we get immediate connectivity for Hungama and we have the leader's support."
What could be the possible arrangement between both the entities? "There are a few factors which we will look into jointly," Nair replies, adding: "Areas like how much of live action programmes, number of repeat hours, how the channel performs, what kinds of audiences will be roped in and such issues. But apart from this, we have no other control on the channel's content or marketing."
STAR has been in talks for a kids' channel not just with UTV but also with Disney. Whether this would affect its discussions with Disney, cannot be concluded yet. On why did they settle on Hungama, Nair elucidates, "UTV has generated good kids' programmes for us and we share a long relation with them."
Apart from the STAR owned channels, STAR also has channels like National Geographic, History Channel, where STAR holds a stake. As far as STAR Vijay is concerned, STAR bought over the channel, and changed the Vijay TV to STAR Vijay. Does STAR plan to buy over this channel as well? Nair laughs the question off with a "No".
This move completes the first stage for Hungama TV keeping in tandem with the planned September launch. The second stage for the channel, which will roll out in the next fortnight is the hunt for Captain Club, "This is a unique idea by itself," says Screwvala, "We will put together a board of children who will advise us on all the decisions we take on the channel."