Sun TV eyes expansion, to invest Rs 300 cr in Bengali, Marathi channels

Sun TV Network will be investing Rs 300 crore in the coming years to come up with regional channels in Bengali and Marathi. While the Bengali channel will go on air February onwards, the Marathi channel will be up in a year's time. This marks the company's maiden foray into non-South Indian markets.  

So far, Sun TV has been focused on the five South Indian states -- Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana -- and has 33 channels.

"After the launch of the Bengali channel, the Marathi channel is expected to be launched in the next one year. Both of these channels are expected to achieve their break-even in two years of operations," S L Narayanan, group CFO of Sun TV, said. 

The southern television major will invest Rs 150 crore in each of these channels. 

Narayanan said the company has set an "internal, aspirational target" to have a 10 per cent market share in the Bengali general entertainment channel (GEC) space with the launch of this regional channel. 

The company's president, R Mahesh Kumar, said that in the wake of regulatory changes in the broadcasting sector in the country, Sun TV has introduced a 55-60 per cent discount on the channel bouquet. 

"There can be a marginal increase in the cost of content. But there is an opportunity to pass it on to the consumer," Kumar said. 

He reasoned that the changes, which the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has ordered, will include a base pack that will ensure a minimum revenue for the broadcaster; subsequently, consumers can choose a pack or a bouquet according to their requirement. 

The company has been receiving good response from its revenue exposure with telecom operators and is in various stages of talks with Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone to come up with app-in-app applications. 

The contribution from the telecom sector to its subscription revenue is 8-10 per cent but Kumar said the "growth rate is extremely good". 

Sun TV's app-in-app on Reliance Jio is expected to be launched in the next couple of months, while talks are on with Vodafone and Airtel.  

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