The way ahead for Pitaara TV is a movie awards night: Sandeep Bansal, MD, 9X Tashan

Bansal, Director of Pitaara TV, talks to exchange4media about finding the right space in the regional movie channel market and more

e4m by Moumita Bhattacharjee
Updated: Apr 10, 2019 8:51 AM
Sandeep Bansal

Pitaara TV is one of the Top 5 channels in Punjab in terms of viewership, according to BARC India ratings for Week 13. It's also the only movie channel in Punjab and falls under the FTA category. 

Sandeep Bansal, Managing Director of 9X Tashan and Director of Pitaara, tells exchange4media that the benefit for free-to-air channels from TRAI's New Tariff Order will be temporary. 

"I don't think in the long term it will be effective. There is a lot of confusion now. So once it settles down, everything will come back to where it was," says Bansal. 

Asked if Pitaara TV experienced fluctuation in viewership during the transition period, he said: "If I talk about the Punjabi market, since Pitaara TV belongs to that market, there is no channel in Punjab which is a pay channel. All are FTA. So, in that sense we have not seen any difference."

Bansal also revealed that it was too early to say if Pitaara TV can be turned into a pay channel. But he would like to see how the big players get benefitted by removing their channels from DD Free Dish. 

Listing out the challenges of FTA, Bansal said, "The only challenge is we are only dependent on advertisement. There is no subscription model. Only dependent on one stream. So there is no balance. If some day, the advertising revenue is bad, you are also down."

Pitaara also has an OTT platform which, as Bansal informs, clocked over 2 lakh downloads without advertising. However, the situation doesn't get better only by that number in terms of OTT in the Punjabi market. “There's no monetisation model on the app. Hardly any ad revenue. So you don't have pay for use for the streaming. I don’t think it is a good model for the Punjabi market," says Bansal. 

Speaking on why he chose to open a movie channel, Bansal reasoned, "There was spcae available for a movie channel. There are movie channels in a lot of languages in India. West Bengal has two-three channels, there are Marathi channels but no Punjabi movie channel. That's why Pitaara TV was launched. It is just one-and-a-half years old." 

Bansal admits that buying satellite rights for movies is a huge investment, in terms of the Punjabi market and the ROI is not that great either. But he reveals that while the world Television premieres may not fetch great ROI, it gets better over the years. He also revealed that unlike Hindi movie channels, Pitaara cannot depend on much repetition of content. "Hindi movies have a lot of population, unlike the Punjabi market. So we can't have much repetition. We have to make available a lot of new content as compared to Hindi channels. Till about two years back, only 20 to 25 movies were made. Now the number is slowly increasing. This year, we are expecting about 70 movies. We are showing two premieres a month. Hopefully, when the supply is more we can look for more premieres."

The way ahead for Pitaara TV is a movie awards night. “This year, we are planning a Punjabi Movie Awards. We are trying international too. That would be a first Punjabi movie awards overseas. In India, we will surely do," says Bansal. 

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