Vijay TV has shifted from a free-to-air to a pay channel, setting the trend for pay TV in the southern regional language markets. STAR’s recently-acquired Tamil language channel has thus pre-empted Sun Network, which had announced plans to convert Gemini TV and Sun TV into pay channels.
Vijay TV was encrypted on Thaicom-3 from midnight August 4, making it the first regional channel in the southern region to go pay. Sun Network has a presence in all the southern states but wants to initially go pay in the Telugu and Tamil language markets.
Vijay TV is priced at Rs 9.50 per subscriber. STAR has informed cable operators that the authorized decoders are available all over Tamil Nadu. The company claims that around 1,000 multiple system operators’ (MSOs) and cable operators have been seeded with STAR’s IRDs.
For a channel, which is way behind Sun TV in Tamil Nadu, Vijay TV may find the going tough. Besides, Sun Network controls the cable distribution in Tamil Nadu through a company, Sumangali Cable Vision. According to sources, as the leader is still a free-to-air channel, it will be difficult for Vijay TV to convince cable operators and consumers to pay for it. The move may put Hathway Cable & Datacom, where STAR has a 26 per cent stake, in a fix as the MSO has a “working truce” with Sumangali Cable Vision in Tamil Nadu. Sun’s cable arm may be reluctant to pay for Vijay TV and will look at opportunities where it can drop it.