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Star Utsav to go pay from 16 August
home (DTH) platforms.
“The channel’s FTA contract is about
to end on 15 August, 2015 and it does
not plan to re-new or extend it
further,” sources close to the
development told
The channel will be priced at Rs 5 on
Tata Sky, at Rs 6 on Videocon d2h and
at Rs 3 on Hathway Cable and
Datacom. Through this development,
the channel now aims to earn
revenues from both ad and
subscription based route.
It can be recalled that the channel
witnessed a new logo and packaging in
the month of January this year to tap
and engage with the rural consumers,
while keeping at pace with the urban
audience. Moreover, it had changed
its programming from six days a week
to the entire week designed to mirror
the daily routines of its viewers.
According to a media expert, the
purpose of launching Star Utsav was to
reach out to its desired TG in smaller
cities and towns where audiences were
not exposed to Star Plus. However
with the channel going pay, the
expert doubts whether the channel
will get the desired visibility. “The
logic to me is unclear, why would
consumers want to pay for a repeat
content? The move makes sense when
the channel experiments by bringing in
original content for the same
audiences,” he said.
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MUMBAI: After running as a free-to-
air (FTA) service for more than 11
years, Star India’s Hindi general
entertainment channel Star Utsav is
finally set to turn pay on 16 August
Earlier in January, the channel had
changed its logo, packaging,
programming and scheduling too,
giving itself a needed facelift. Prior
to that, Star India had elevated its
vice president Jyotsna Viriyala to the
position of business head of Star
Utsav after Pratik Seal’s exit from
the organisation.
In a public notice issued on 13 July,
Star India intimated that Star Utsav
will be converted to a pay channel
across India and across all delivery
platforms, including cable (analogue
as well as digital), direct-to-home
(DTH), and headend-in-the-sky
Speculations that Star Utsav will turn
into a pay channel started making
rounds soon after Seal was made the
company’s business head.
Interestingly, before Seal, the
channel never had an independent
business head and the business head of
Star Plus would handle the additional
Star Utsav, which is the most-
watched channel on Prasar Bharati’s
FTA DTH service DD Freedish, was
enjoying a free run sans any
competition till 2013. However, later
Zee Anmol and Viacom18’s Rishtey
also entered the FTA space and Multi
Screen Media’s (MSM) Sony Pal also
took a Freedish slot, leaving the
market cramped but offering
audiences more choice.
The channel currently telecasts re-
runs of shows from Star Plus and Life
In an earlier interaction, Star India
COO Sanjay Gupta had told that as an FTA
channel Star Utsav is doing quite well
in the Hindi heartland. “Star Utsav
requires a lot of focus and attention
because a large number of advertisers
are keen to talk to those consumers.
That’s why we appointed Pratik Seal
as the business head of the channel.”
Asked if the channel would offer fresh
programming, he had said that repeat
would be a very wrong word to
describe the content that Star Utsav
offers. “I think there is no
difference between Star World and
Star Utsav. Star World also repeats
content. But Star World’s content is
new to us Indians and Star Utsav’s is
not. For many viewers who do not
have access to Star Plus or Life OK,
Star Utsav offers fresh content. In a
sense, therefore, Star Utsav is the
Star World of India,” he had said.
Star Utsav has great reach. Viewers
who do not have cable can get the
channel via Freedish. It is available on
all the DTH platforms as well as most
of the digital cable platforms.
When asked as to what may have
prompted Star India to take the
channel pay, a senior media buyer
said, “Over time, Star Utsav has
become a strong FTA channel with
great recall value. I believe the
company is looking to exploit the
same by turning it pay.”
He added, however, that once the
channel goes pay, the reach will go
down and the channel will in most
probability add original content. “You
cannot be a pay channel and remain on
Freedish. So once the channel gets
out of Freedish, its reach is going to
drop significantly. Moreover, it will
have to put in some original content,
which will take its input cost higher.
But it will get subscription revenue,”
he added.
While Star India is yet to disclose its
reasons and strategy for the
conversion, Zee Entertainment
Enterprises Ltd chief sales officer
Ashish Sehgal does not think Zee will
follow suit. “I am sure they have
their strategy, but Zee Anmol remains
an FTA channel. The ad pie is big and
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