Colors goes FTA in the UK; gears up for battle

MUMBAI: The battle to capture the eyeballs of the UK-based Indian TV channel viewer is about to get fiercer. The Viacom18 group’s flagship brand Colors has announced that it is going free to air in the UK from 2 September. Following this, all of Sky Digital and Virgin Media’s cable TV viewers will be able to receive the channel as a free service.


Says Colors CEO Raj Nayak: “We are elated to offer two of our leading brands, Colors and Rishtey, to our viewers in the UK. With this move, we will be reaching out to a much wider audience base giving them an enriching viewing experience of our top class fiction and non-fiction programming”.


Colors became a part of Multiscreen Media’s ViewAsia bouquet (available on Sky as an Asian pack for pound sterling 17.99) in 2010 and was a pay channel there. Over the past year, ViewAsia tenants such as Sab TV, Sahara one and Aaj Tak opted to go free, leaving Colors to give company to Sony Max, B4U Movies, Sony TV Asia and ARY digital on ViewAsia. Now Colors too has headed for the exit, leaving question marks over ViewAsia’s pricing structure.


Points out IndiaCast group CEO Anuj Gandhi: “The UK continues to be one of our most important markets - where in the past we have challenged the status quo with the launch and success of Rishtey and now with Colors going free to air, we are making our next big move towards leadership.”


Over the past three years, the Network18 group and Viacom18 have launched Colors, Rishtey and News 18 – the first international news channel covering India- in the UK with the Viacom-Network18 joint venture Indiacast. The network says, Colors is available in close to 75 countries and its content is distributed in over 100 countries.


'' Over the last 12 months, we have had phenomenal success with Rishtey that has made us the strongest challenger in the market. With Colors going free to air, we will neutralize the undue distribution advantage that some of the other south Asian channels have enjoyed in the market, making it a level playing field and we are confident of being the leading south Asian network in the UK in the near future,” says Indiacast COO Gaurav Gandhi.


Adds IndiaCast UK’s business head Govind Shahi: “As a growing network, we are thrilled to independently deliver a broader spectrum of high quality entertainment to the consumer – with path breaking dramas, round-the-clock news, movie premieres and all-time favourite international formats like Bigg Boss, India’s Got Talent and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. Now with our channels reaching DTH homes in the UK, we are going to be the most potent and effective platform for the advertisers targeting South Asian homes.”


Once it goes free to air, Colors will become a BARB rated channel in the UK. The latest BARB ratings for the week ended 11 August, show Star Plus is the leader in the UK market with 1.16 million viewers, UMP Movies is second with 994,000 viewers, Rishtey, third with 888,000 viewers, Zing – a part of the Zee Network – is at fourth with its best ever ratings of 621,000 viewers. At fifth place is Star Gold with 580,000 viewers. Sony SAB TV follows with 573,000 viewers. At seventh spot is Star Life Ok with 440,000 viewers.


Cumulatively, the Star Network channels account for 2 plus million viewers in the UK - a stranglehold that the Netowrk18 group will be hard-pressed to try and break. But knowing the IndiaCast, Network18 and Viacom18, teams, well, they love a good joust. Get ready for a good fight!

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