Viacom18, the parent network of Colors, one of the top Hindi GECs, has announced that it will launch another Hindi GEC in the UK. The free to air channel, Rishtey, will be the first launch under the newly formed distribution network, IndiaCast, while it will be the seventh entertainment channel of the network as a whole, along with MTV, Nickelodeon, Vh1, Colors, Sonic and Comedy Central.
In an official communiqué, Sudhanshu Vats, group CEO, Viacom18, says, "While we have a horizontal presence across television entertainment, with the launch of Rishtey, we now begin the phase of strengthening our presence in each vertical."
Gaurav Gandhi, COO, IndiaCast says that the channel will cater to a wider audience base, being an FTA.
It is learnt that Rishtey may share content with its sibling channel Colors for the latter's simulcast-worthy shows, new offerings and Hindi movies. It was also learnt that it will primarily be used as a free window to promote premium properties from Colors. Though the channel has refused to comment on any aspect of programming, market sources reveal that it may broadcast content from its news channels such as CNN-IBN, CNBC-TV18 and regional shows from its recently acquired Eenadu network.
Shows such as Jai Shree Krishna (telecast on Colors when the channel was launched) and Kurukshetra will be telecast on Rishtey, along with a new singing reality show which will be simulcast on Sahara One and Colors, along with some channels in Pakistan.
Interestingly, though, the content of the channel will be quite similar to Colors, which is already available in the UK market as a pay channel. The network chooses to call the channel a 'variety entertainment channel' with 'hybrid programming'.
Initially, the channel will show repeat content. Apparently, it was mandatory for the network to launch the channel within a stipulated time period, or risk losing the EPG slot as per Sky's terms and conditions.
Some media experts suggest that this may be an attempt to follow a strategy similar to that of STAR Utsav, which is a free to air channel that airs repeat telecasts of Star Plus' shows. However, launching the channel in the UK seems to be a strange move. It is possible that this is an attempt by the network to sample the content on a wider audience base and using a free to air channel is a better option than converting the flagship pay channel to an FTA channel.
A media planner says that the content strategy definitely decreases the spends on the content by 75 per cent, as this kind of content would not cost more than a quarter of what original programming would.
The branding of Rishtey is similar to Colors, with the corporate multi-coloured petal and a similar font.