Sony set to expand, music channel launch in September
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MUMBAI: Buoyed by the success of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Multi Screen Media (MSM) is on an expansion mode. The company is likely to launch its Hindi music channel on 1 September and is in advanced talks to gobble up regional broadcaster ETV’s entertainment channels for a whopping Rs 22 billion.


Sony Mix will launch as a pure music channel even as MTV and Channel [V] have repositioned as youth channels with non-music content forming an important element of the mix to widen the audience base and attract a larger pool of advertisers. The back-to-back music format has found success in ratings but opening up a strong revenue stream has been a constant struggle.


“We have got the government approval and will be launching Sony Mix very soon,” says MSM chief operating officer NP Singh, while declining to reveal the exact date of launch.
 
Sources, however, say MSM is looking at launching Sony Mix on 1 September. The music channel space is heavily cluttered but Sony believes its network strength will allow it to leverage better.


Sony’s regional story is waiting to unfold as it has decided to adopt the acquisition route. The central plot in this expansion drive is the acquisition of ETV and the valuation is broadly settled but due diligence is on, it is reliably learnt.


“Though Network18 Group had shown interest, Sony is more aggressive as it has the other parts of the entertainment chain in place. The revenue success of the IPL has given the company an enormous confidence to invest and expand in India. Network18 Group still has to work on the other pieces such as a Hindi movie channel. But for a deal of such size, nothing can be final till it is signed,” says a source familiar with the development.


The Ramoji Rao-owned Eenadu TV (ETV) consists of a bouquet of 12 regional channels.


Sony’s distribution joint venture with Discovery, MSM Discovery, will wait to see how the Star-Zee company, Media Pro Enterprise India, shapes up before deciding on what course of action it should adopt.


“It is too early to take a call on whether we need to consolidate with Sun18 or other bouquets. We will decide on what approach to take only after Media Pro swings into deep action. When we had Colors in our bouquet, Sony Entertainment Television was clocking under 100 GRPs. Now Sony is in close contest with Zee TV for the third spot and Sab also has grown remarkably well,” says MSM Discovery president Rajesh Kaul, while declining to comment on other issues.

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