UTV India and Astro, Malaysia – a key DTH and pay TV operator in the region – have entered into a joint venture to launch two kids’ channels in South East Asia, which are on Astro’s DTH platform across Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and later on in Singapore.
Commenting on the joint venture, Ronnie Screwvala, CEO, UTV, said, “We are completely committed to the kids’ space in Asia. We are very familiar with the Southeast Asian markets and believe that these territories will find great success in local channels with the 4-14 age group. The content and formats created by us, as well as our experience in this space, is something we hope to bring to the table in this partnership.”
Astro’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Ralph Marshal, added, “This arrangement is consistent with Astro’s objective to work with successful regional partners to develop and distribute exciting new content that is specially tailored for our Malaysian subscribers and attuned to our cultural values. We have a long-standing relationship with the UTV Group, and believe that this channel concept will succeed in Malaysia as well as in other markets in the region.”
Astro will be making the entire capital investment for the launch of these channels. UTV will provide the entire know how, the content, the formats, marketing and brand building expertise for the launch of its channels. The successful format of UTV and Hungama from India will be created locally in Bahasa Malay and Bahasa Indonesia languages.
The first of these channels, in Bahasa Malay, will include some 400-500 hours of local production annually. These channels, which will include a mixture of animation and live action content incorporating Asian cultural values and edutainment elements, will be distributed on the Astro pay-TV service in Malaysia from early 2006, followed by other regional markets.
Astro will leverage on the creative assets and skills of UTV and its flagship kids’ channel, Hungama TV, to develop new formats. Hungama TV and UTV will also assist Astro with packaging and branding of these channels.
Over and above the fee to be paid by Astro to UTV annually, UTV has been granted a three-year option to subscribe for 20 per cent stake in these channels at par plus royalty for formats taken from UTV and Hungama.