UTV applies for uplinking permission for two kids channels

MUMBAI: UTV's sister concern United Home Entertainment has filed an application with information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry for uplinking of two kids channels.

The company floated Hungama TV in September last year. The names and launch date of the channels have not yet been decided.

At present there are seven kids channels in India namely - Cartoon Network, Pogo, Hungama, The Disney Channel, Toon Disney, Animax and Nick. The two new channels from United Home Entertainment will take the tally to nine!

The company plans to break the kids universe into three segments -- pre-school, 4-9 years and 10-14 years. The launch of the two new channels will form a three channel bouquet with Hungama. The channels will be pay and are most likely to join their sibling on the Star distribution platform.

A company release informed that the channels will have the right mix of acquired content in animation as well as locally produced live action programming and animation from India.

"There is a clear and distinct segmentation in viewership happening between the various age groups and our focus on creating content will be aimed at these different age groups," says Hungama programming head Zarina Mehta.

"The 4-9 year olds are avid watchers of television and are clearly looking for content that will appeal to them. We will be sourcing international formats as well as locally produced programmes not just from UTV, but from all content producers as we have done in the past," she adds.

Hungama's recently launched new show Hero opened exceptionally well. The channel's ad revenues stack up to Rs 6 - 7.5 million per month and their ongoing special events including Hungama Captains Hunt augments the ad pie.

"We wish to retain our first mover advantage in the localised and Indian kids channels space. Presently we have just applied for uplinking and the exact timeline will be announced at a later date. The incremental cost for running a second and third channel will be nominal as the entire infrastructure for programming, marketing, sales and distribution is already in place," says UTV CEO Ronnie Screwvala.

"Additional costs will be more than met by advertising and pay revenues and therefore, no additional investment is envisaged and yet we will be augmenting the overall pie at this very early stage," he adds.

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