Buoyed by growth in regional markets and the onset of digitisation, Sri Adhikari Brothers Television Network plans to launch nine channels by 2012-end in the regional general entertainment and niche spaces.
“We want to create a network of entertainment channels and distribution platform to exploit the subscription revenue market. The bouquet will have a strong line-up of all our group channels and special interest foreign channels,” said Markand Adhikari, vice-chairman and managing director of Sri Adhikari Brothers.
The company will launch four general entertainment channels (GECs) by the end of September — Dholiya for viewers across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh; My Boli and De Danna Dhan, two Marathi channels in the comedy genre; and a Gujarati channel, which is yet to be named. Adhikari said, “In addition, we will be launching five channels in the niche category, basically targeted at the male audience.” For this, the company is in talks with various international players.
The company’s three channels that are on air are Mastiii, a mix of comedy and music, Dabangg and Dhamaal, two channels for the Hindi belt. According to TAM data provided by the company, Mastiii leads the pack in the highly cluttered music genre, with a market share of 19.8 per cent, followed by 9xM (17.3 per cent) and Sony Mix (13.8 per cent). In the Hindi belt, Dabangg has a market share of over 57 per cent, while Mahua TV and Big Magic have 18 and 24 per cent, respectively.
Established in 1995, the production house forayed into broadcasting in April 2000 by launching a full-fledged comedy channel, SAB TV, through its subsidiary, TV Vision. It later sold the channel to Sony Entertainment Television (now Multi-Screen Media Pvt Ltd).
Sri Adhikari Brothers reported Rs 1.75 crore in profit and Rs 48.45 crore in revenue for 2011-12. The market may have factored in the expected event, as the stock has gained more than 38 per cent in the past two months amid a bearish market. The company’s shares today closed 1.47 per cent down at Rs 94.10 on the BSE. Its current market cap is at around Rs 235 crore.
Jehil Thakkar, an executive director at consulting firm KPMG, said, “The bulk of the viewership is in Hindi and other regional media, which has shown resilience and better growth rates, amidst a downtrend in the advertising market.” “Also, the capex required for starting a regional channel is lower,” Thakkar said.
A media and entertainment industry report released by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and KPMG in 2012 stated regional print and television would be the primary drivers of the expected increase in the advertising inventory, as new channels and media formats were added.
In this year itself, the industry has seen several major players launching operations or focussing on regional markets. Reliance Industries invested in the Network 18 group to buy out Eenadu in a multi-layered deal. Dainik Bhaskar sold its stake in DNA newspaper, to focus on tier-II and tier-III towns by launching editions in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Bihar.
Multi-Screen Media (MSM), which runs Sony, acquired a 30 per cent stake in Maa Television Network that operates four Telugu channels. “We will continue to invest in the regional television channels market. We are open to acquisition opportunities in the regional space, else we will launch new channels,” said Manjit Singh, chief executive of MSM.
Even advertising volumes on television have exhibited a shift in favour of regional channels, according to the report. “In 2010, of the total ad volumes on television, 53 per cent was on regional channels as opposed to national channels, growing from 47 per cent in 2009,” stated the report. “We now have the bandwidth to cater to niche segments. The subscription model will allow channels to look beyond advertisers,” Adhikari said.
Even in the niche segment, Media buyers say the space is growing at roughly 10 per cent a year. Less than Rs 1,000 crore of advertising goes to specialised channels, which are limited to English entertainment, in a Rs 6,000-crore television advertising market.