Pay-TV broadcaster Sun TV Network has decided to keep its Marathi and Bengali general entertainment channels (GEC) – Sun Marathi and Sun Bangla – as free to air (FTA) in the new tariff regime.
The two channels are most likely to replace Gemini News and Udaya News which are being discontinued by the broadcaster. Udaya News was shut down with effect from 24 October 2017. The broadcaster will continue to operate its Tamil news channel Sun News. The total channel count will remain 33 including 25 standard definition (SD) and eight high definition (HD) channels.
Sun Marathi and Sun Bangla will be the only FTA channels in the Sun TV Network. As reported earlier, the Bengali GEC is slated to launch in Q4 FY19 while the Marathi GEC would be launched in FY20.
By keeping the two channels FTA, the broadcaster wants to ensure wide availability for the two channels. The wide reach will allow more consumers in the two markets to sample the content.
Under the new regulatory framework, broadcasters have to provide their channels on a la carte basis to consumers. The broadcasters can also create bouquets for the consumers. Unlike the previous regime, the choice to take a channel on a la carte or to subscribe to a bouquet will rest with the consumer.
The broadcaster plans to invest Rs 150 crore on its Sun Bangla in its first year of operation. It had launched flanking Tamil GEC Sun Life in October 2017 with an initial investment of Rs 30-40 crore.
“We will invest Rs 150 crore on Sun Bangla in its first year. On Sun Life, we will invest Rs 30-40 crore for the year,” Sun Group chief financial officer (CFO) SL Narayanan had told analysts during the Q2 earnings call.
Earlier, the Sun TV Network management had said that Sun Bangla will achieve break-even in 2-3 years. Sun Bangla will have original as well as commissioned content.
The management had projected that the Bangla channel will achieve 10-12% viewership within a couple of years.
In Bangla market, Sun Bangla will compete with Star Jalsha, Zee Bangla and Colors Bangla. In the Maharashtra market, Sun Marathi will have be up against the dominant player Zee Marathi apart from other competitors like Colors Marathi, Star Pravah, and the recently launched Sony Marathi.