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Former Disney MD Mahesh Samat launches entertainment channel

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | May 16, 2013
The channel, christened Epic, will go on air sometime in August.

Mahesh Samat, former managing director, Disney (2008-12), is all set to launch an entertainment channel in the Indian television space with a niche content offering. The pay channel, named Epic, will have genre specific content related to history, folklore and mythology.

Mahesh Samat

Samat explains that the content will focus on creating newer characters in the same mythological backdrop. The non-fiction programming will typically be about narrative story telling or re-enactment of shorter stories. Surprisingly, Epic does not expect hardcore appointment viewing for the content, but will largely depend on occasion-based viewership.

Samat reasons, "This is the time when segmentation is possible in the Indian television industry. One can now see scope for niche genres/channels and thematic content." The channel will have original episodic content of about three hours a day, while the rest will be repeat telecasts. Since the channel is looking at weekly shows, more than eight shows will be ready at the time of the launch.

It is learnt that Epic is still awaiting a few government and regulatory clearances and is tentatively slated to be launched in August. Being focused with its positioning and optimistic about the content, the channel has completely done away with analog distribution. It will, however, be available on all the DTH platforms and digital cable networks. The channel will tentatively be priced in the range of Rs 20-30 per month. It is a full HD channel, with content being shot and edited on HD equipment.

Epic Television, which was set up around October 2012, is the promoter of the channel. It is funded by a group of financial investors. Samat will be the managing director of the channel, while the rest of the team will include Ravina Kohli, Aparna Pandey and Manish Thukral. Kohli is head, Yash Raj Films TV and will be development head, while Pandey will take care of the content and packaging; she was earlier working with Big CBS as business head. Thukral will be the chief financial officer for the company. Anand Mahindra is one of the many investors, who is backing the channel in his personal capacity.

Samat claims the channel will create a 'segmented' category in television, presenting thematic content that is focused on a particular genre. He adds that the channel will cater to a wide audience and so will attract many advertisers.

Explaining the idea of 'segmented' television, Samat says, "In India, multiplexes changed the movie viewing experience where one could actually pick and choose the movie they wanted to see. A family could watch different content based on their individual interests. With digitisation, we believe that there is an opportunity for 'multiplexing' television, where viewers have the choice to consume genre-specific content of their liking. Epic will be a first of its kind segmented channel in the Hindi entertainment category, offering a compelling and modern take on Indian history and mythology. Our vision is to create a brand in television that will translate our vibrant past into entertainment with the objective of creating new IPs, strong characters and new heroes that strike a chord with mass audiences."

Epic will have action, drama, comedy, supernatural and narrative non-fiction content, set against Indian historic and mythological eras.

It is learnt that depending on the response to the channel, Epic Television Network may launch a few more niche channels.

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