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Star plans to launch a premium HD Hindi movie channel under ‘Select’ brand

MUMBAI: After English entertainment and sports channels, Star India is planning to launch a premium high-definition (HD) Hindi movie channel under the ‘Select’ brand.

The channel christened ‘Star Gold Select HD’ will mark the media company’s first premium channel in Hindi. Its previous launch in the Hindi movie cluster was free-to-air (FTA) channel Star Utsav Movies.

The launch date of the channel has not been finalised as the broadcaster is still on the drawing board with respect to the content, marketing and business strategy. The channel is targeted at the upper end of the pay TV segment and will play a select library of films.

Star’s intention of entering the premium Hindi movie segment was apparent when it had created a special service with direct-to-home (DTH) operators in 2015 to premiere Salman Khan’s ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ in 4K or ultra HD.

The premium channel will be priced at Rs 25 on reference interconnection offer (RIO) basis.

Star’s first premium HD channel under the ‘Select’ brand was English movie channel Star Movies Select HD, which targets upscale audiences with a proposition of 365 movies for 365 days. Star Movies Select HD was launched in July 2015.

More than a year later, it launched Star Sports Select HD1 and HD2 by moving all its premium international content like EPL, Bundesliga, Grand Slam Tennis and F1 to the two channels.

Star Movies Select HD is priced at Rs 25 while Star Sports Select HD1 and HD2 are priced Rs 35 each. Incidentally, the broadcaster is not charging any subscription fee from distribution platform operators (DPOs) for premium sports HD channels Star Sports Select HD1 and HD2 until 31 July.

After launching Star Gold Select HD, Star will have a play in FTA, mass pay and premium segments in the Hindi movie channel space. Star India’s Hindi movie cluster comprises Star Gold, Star Gold HD, Movies OK and Star Utsav Movies. Its Hindi film library is in excess of 1,200 titles.

A large chunk of Star’s library comes from its deals with leading Bollywood stars like Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn. It also gets titles from its sister concern Fox Star Studios.

Star, which operates 26 HD channels in different genres, sees HD channels as a big driver of pay revenues.

While giving a presentation at the second Annual MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in 2015, Star India CEO Uday Shankar had projected Star’s HD subscriber base to reach 25–40 million in the next 3–5 years from 3 million that it had at that time.