Yantra Media looks beyond Sun to rivals

MUMBAI: The southern television space, which is witnessing a boom of sorts in terms of channel launches, is providing increased opportunities for producers. One fallout of this phenomenon of course is the switching of loyalties to rival camps.

In one such move, Yantra Media -- a medium-sized production house headquartered in Chennai -- has made its exit from the Sun Network. The hitherto Sun-aligned company, promoted by Shyamsundar, is now accepting work outside the Sun camp. Yantra is now producing primetime shows for Zee Telugu and Malayalam network Asianet.

Sun Network signs its production houses as exclusive content partners as the agreement carries a clause which bar producers from working for rival networks.

"The market is booming. Since the last one year, the South witnessed the entry of many new players. Zee will be launching their second regional channel this year. Star is investing more in its South plans. The DTH scenario also looks very encouraging for production houses. So in this changing scenario, I don't want to miss out on the tremendous opportunities that the market offers," Shyamsundar explains.

Market sources add that there are a few more producers who have been wooed by Sun's rival channels and were subsequently warned to stay put. When contacted, a Sun executive refused to comment on the reported developments.

Shyamsundar points out that the guaranteed commission model Sun's rivals offer makes the game less risky for small-sized production houses. "In Sun Network, if your show is not delivering good ratings consistently, then there is a problem. In that case, you need multiple shows to manage the losses, which many can't afford. So, it is natural for producers to look for other options especially in this scenario," he points out.

While a half-hour slot on Sun costs in the range of Rs 125,000 to Rs 150,000, Zee Telugu pays the producer an average Rs 80,000 for every half-hour episode, market estimates indicate.

Yantra has four successful programmes currently on air in Sun Network. It produces a sitcom Ammayi Lahala in Malayalam and three crime-based shows in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. Sun is currently in the process of discontinuing the Yantra-produced shows from its network. Shyamsundar however ruled out the possibility of taking these shows to other networks.

Yantra's Zee Telugu soap Manasantha Nuuve is placed in the 7:30 pm slot. The production house will launch a political satire CM AM to PM on the channel shortly.

Speaking about Yantra's association with Asianet, Shyamsundar says he is in fact going back to his ancestral home. It was through Asianet that he got noticed with his blockbuster soap Sthree which ran for more than 500 episodes. Shyamsundar even played a key role in the alliance between Asianet and Zee to launch a Kannada channel called Kaveri, a project that didn't take off.

Yantra is doing two primetime shows, a sitcom and a soap, for Asianet. The sitcom Sundari Sundari and the soap Thanichu are slotted as dailies. In a gamble of sorts, Asianet has slotted

Sundari Sundari in the Monday to Friday 8:30 pm slot, which directly clashes with the number one Malayalam soap Kavyanjali airing on Surya TV. Coinciding with Yantra's return, Asianet is also bringing back Sthree in the afternoon band. The one hour daily is slotted for 12 noon.


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