MUMBAI: Gearing up for a bigger play in the free-to-air (FTA) market, Star India is planning to launch an FTA Hindi movie channel under the name Star Utsav Movies. Star Utsav is the FTA Hindi GEC brand of Star.
The channel is most likely to launch in May–June, a source close to the development told TelevisionPost.com. It will have a mix of old and new movies.
“We are launching an FTA movie channel Star Utsav Movies in May or June. It will have a mix of old and new movies. It will be available on Freedish. The channel is still under works,” the source stated.
The broadcaster has secured the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) clearance to rename Star Gold Romance as Star Utsav Movies. In February, it received a licence from the MIB under the name Star Gold Romance.
Star has already booked a slot on Doordarshan’s FTA direct-to-home (DTH) platform Freedish for the channel.
The source said that the plan was always to launch the FTA movie channel under the Star Utsav brand. “The licence was earlier under Star Gold Romance, but recently we got MIB clearance to change the name to Star Utsav Movies. The FTA movie channel was always supposed to be under the Star Utsav brand,” the source stated.
The strategy behind extending the Star Utsav franchise to Hindi movies is clear. Since Star Utsav is a well-known brand in those markets, the new channel will have a top-of-the-mind recall among audiences.
With the launch of Star Utsav Movies, Star’s Hindi movie bouquet will increase to four including Star Gold, Star Gold HD and Movies OK. The new channel will be headed by Star India EVP and GM Hindi movie business Hemal Jhaveri.
Recently, Viacom18 extended its FTA GEC brand Rishtey to the Hindi movie genre with the launch of Rishtey Cineplex. The channel is on Freedish, which is becoming a critical distribution platform for broadcasters to cater to untapped rural areas.