After fortifying its position in the two southern states of Kerala and Karnataka, Star India is now all set to expand its presence in the Tamil market with the launch of a second general entertainment channel (GEC) to complement Vijay TV.
The licence approval for the new channel has been pending with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for some time now. When the approval comes, Star is ready to launch the channel within the same quarter itself.
The name of Star’s new channel could be Vijay Plus or Star Vijay 2.
“We are launching a second Tamil GEC. We are awaiting regulatory approvals,” a source in the company said.
The strategy of two local-language GECs in a southern state is something which Star has successfully carried out in both Kerala and Karnataka. Tamil Nadu was difficult as Sun TV Network dominated the market not just with its swathe of channels but also with its strong grip in the cable TV distribution side of the business. With the emergence of state-owned Arasu Cable under the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK government, Star feels there is an opening in the market for it to penetrate deep.
Star realises that the task will not be easy. Sun TV Network is a dominant player and has left very few gaps for rivals to exploit. But there is now space for a second player to launch new channels and grow in the market. Other broadcasters like Zee are more optimistic now than ever before and have ramped up their investments in the Tamil market.
According to the source, the second Tamil GEC will be built on the same line as Vijay TV. Incidentally, Vijay TV is cutting down on dubbed content and producing more original shows.
“If there can be a Star Plus and Life OK, and both are performing well, why can’t there be a second Tamil GEC by the same company? There needs to be some differentiation, but it can survive on the content which other GECs also air,” the source said.
An executive of another GEC said that if a channel needs to break the barriers in the Tamil market, it has to be strong on fiction.
The market has been growing over the past few years amid shifting dynamics. Earlier, completely dominated by Sun TV, channels like Vijay TV started a trend by crossing the 200 GRP mark and reaching the No 2 position on the back of strong movie acquisitions and beefing up its fiction programming. At number three, the other big player in the space is Zee Tamizh which is looking to grow big.