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Discovery to bring in 4th channel for DTH platform

March 31, 2008 11:59 IST

Nearly 13 years after launching in India, Discovery Communications may soon bring in a fourth channel exclusively for the direct-to-home platform.

Discovery Communications India currently has three niche offerings -- Discovery Channel, Discovery Travel & Living and Animal Planet.

Discovery Networks India Executive Vice-President and MD Deepak Shourie said that the DTH platform has been able to quickly penetrate cable homes by reaching out to 5 million subscribers within a couple of years.

"We have a host of offerings at Discovery Communications and we may bring in a channel for the DTH platform exclusively this year," Shourie told Business Standard at the launch of the Hindi feed of Animal Planet.

Discovery Communications globally offers channels such as Discovery Health, Military Channel, TLC, Science Channel, Investigation Discovery among others. 

The group might bring in one of these channels for the DTH platform, sources indicated. Currently, only BBC Worldwide offers two channels (BBC Entertainment & CBeebies) exclusively for Tata Sky.

Apart from Dish TV and Tata Sky, the two private DTH operators currently offering their services to 5 million subscribers, four more DTH entrants are scheduled to launch their services this year, fuelling the demand for exclusive channels for DTH.

Discovery Networks India has decided to air Animal Planet with Hindi feed after the Discovery Channel. This move is aimed at attracting more advertisers as the Hindi feed will cater to viewers with different profile as against the viewers of English language Discovery and Animal Planet channels.

Shourie termed the partial roll-out of conditional access system in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata as a complete failure.

"The government should first take stock of the situation arising out of the CAS failure before extending it further. With DTH services likely to become cheaper once more entrants start their services, viewers will prefer DTH over cable," he said.

The niche television entertainment genre is currently dominated by the three Discovery channels that directly compete with National Geographic and History Channel, its rivals.

According to industry sources, the niche television entertainment genre is worth about Rs 110-120 crore (Rs 1.1 to Rs 1.2 billion) with Discover Networks having a major share.

Discovery Communications reaches 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers across 170 countries led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, HD Theater among other offerings.

Discovery Communications is owned by Discovery Holding Company, Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S Hendricks, Discovery's founder and chairman.

Ashish Sinha in New Delhi
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