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Sun TV designs digital play, syndicates content to iTunes, YouTube

MUMBAI: Following in the footsteps of national broadcasters and film studios, Chennai-based regional media conglomerate Sun TV Network has decided to get busy on the digital front and earn revenues from multiple screens.

The broadcaster has entered into a syndication deal with Google’s video streaming website YouTube and Apple’s iTunes to offer its content on a pay-per-view basis.

Since Sun TV does not have rights to shows (as it operates on a slot selling model), it will mainly be movies and music from its library that will travel to YouTube and iTunes. For the TV shows, Sun TV will have to obtain digital screening rights from the content producers.

Sun TV’s library mainly includes close to 8,000 films. The company’s initiative is meant to monetise its vast content libraries by partnering with several globally active digital distribution platforms that transact with customers over the internet.

The exposure of Sun TV content on YouTube and iTunes will, however, not earn significant revenues for the company. “The revenue impact will be miniscule now. It will be below double digit. But it has potential to grow in future,” a source said.

A senior executive in a broadcasting company involved in the digital line of business believes that while iTunes follows a pay-per-view model, it does not work on YouTube. Besides, TV shows are more in demand on YouTube. “The best revenue model on YouTube is ads. The pay-per-view is too small. Moreover, it is TV shows, not films, that have greater pull on YouTube,” he said.

Regarding iTunes, he said that films and music are a better bet. “Based on recency, the revenue sharing per view or download can be anywhere between 50 to 70 per cent. The more recent the movie or song, the higher will be Sun TV’s share. It can add significant revenues,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sun TV also signed an agreement with Mumbai-based Purple IFE Ltd to deploy its content for in-flight entertainment. With the deal in place, the content will be available on airlines including Air India, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Jet Airways, Oman Air and Singapore Airlines.

“By tying up with Purple IFE, the company has successfully licensed some popular programmes in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada to provide premium in-flight entertainment,” the company said.

Sun TV Network currently operates 33 TV channels, including four high definition channels, with a reach of over 100 million households in India.