The popularity of Bollywood and Indian shows cannot be underestimated given the success of content syndication. The latest example is the GEC called TaraHD from Astro in the Malaysian market with popular Indian shows like ‘Naagin’, ‘Koffee with Karan’ and ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’. The channel was launched after the success of BollyOne HD, a Hindi movie channel.
Launched in October, the channel replaced Zee Variasi (a Hindi channel from ZEEL) with syndicated content from Sony Entertainment Television, Star Plus, LifeOk, Zee TV, Colors and MTV. It has received good response till now according to Dr. N C Rajamani, Senior Vice President, Content Management Group, Astro. “Tamilians who have got their own content are also watching TaraHD. The channel is watched by both the Malay and the Indian community. Hindi content has universal appeal,” he says, adding, “It’s one of the top channels across genres.”
Mumbai-based Helios Media has partnered with the Malaysian channel for content strategy and consultation. Divya Radhakrishnan, MD, Helios Media, says, “Helios gives a very neutral stand. We conduct analysis on the shows, carry out the purchase deals and hand over the hard disk to Astro. Once you have an agency in Mumbai, you are absolutely current. This channel’s core is the best of Hindi GEC. We will stick to that.”
We ask Radhakrishnan about how the Malaysian audience took the departure of Zee Variasi. She believes that the audience follows good content. “The minute you give them good content you are fine. We are buying from Zee, including its new show with actor Sunil Shetty. Real life based shows are doing very well,” she says.
The subscription-based channel has 1,500 hours content in a year. Content curation is done based on ratings and its appeal to the communities. Radhakrishnan explains, “For instance, Star Plus’ ‘Yeh Hai Mohabattein’ was selected for Tara because the lead protagonist is a Tamilian. There is an affinity. Malays love supernatural and crime shows. Therefore, we have ‘Naagin’ and ‘Crime Patrol’. We have taken ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’ because it has Bollywood celebrities in it. We created a special show on Shah Rukh Khan. We took Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Yudh’.”
She adds, “Some shows may be no. 1 over here but they might not hold appeal in Malaysia. For example, we stayed away from mythology because there are many religions over there. We make sure social trends and community appeal are taken care of. Our FPC is planned around that, irrespective of which channel it comes from.”
Dr. Rajamani further shares, “We are planning to bring ‘Ashoka’ because Buddhism appeals to the Chinese. Whatever we are putting out has to appeal to some community in Malaysia. All Indian content may not be suitable for Malaysia. We are doing a lot of research. At the end of the day, Tara is a platform for best-of-the-best Indian content.”
Bollywood definitely brings them more eyeballs as the genre is well celebrated across the country. The channel was launched with the screening of ‘Sultan’ on October 19. In fact, its programming starts with Bollywood music in the morning and then another hour in the evening. Dr. Rajamani offers, “In addition to the shows, we are bringing good movies like ‘Dilwale’ and ‘Bajirao Mastani.’ Since classics hold great appeal in the international market, we recently showed ‘Sholay’ and ‘Haathi Mere Saathi.’ We are bringing movies every day on BollyOne and TaraHD.”
Even their local productions are themed on Bollywood including ‘Bolly Stage’ which featured popular singers like Armaan Malik, Divya Kumar and Palak Muchha, and ‘Sensation SRK,’ a documentary on Shah Rukh Khan. Dr. Rajamani says, “We are doing another locally produced talent show with well-known Malaysian artists called Bollywood Express.”
Most of the content is syndicated with 20 percent of the budget reserved for locally produced content.
According to Dr. Rajamani and Radhakrishnan, most of the shows are doing well including ‘Koffee with Karan,’ ‘The Kapil Sharma Show,’ ‘Crime Patrol,’ ‘Naagin,’ ‘Yeh Hai Mohabbatein’ and ‘Yudh.’ They are planning to extend the primetime from 6.30–11 pm. Radhakrishnan adds, “Every month, we bring certain hours of programming into the channel. We keep refreshing the content.”
In the pipeline, there’s an international Bollywood singing competition scheduled for next year and a show on music video contest for year end.
Dr. Rajamani adds, “We just started this channel. We are doing a lot of homework on how to popularise the channel.”