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Viacom18 to enter Tamil market with launch of Colors Tamil in Q4 of 2017

MUMBAI: Viacom18, the equal joint venture (JV) between TV18 and Viacom, has decided to take the plunge in the Tamil Nadu market. The company has said that it will launch its Tamil general entertainment channel, Colors Tamil, in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Tamil Nadu is the biggest regional ad market worth Rs 1700–1800 crore in 2016, according to KPMG estimates. It has the second-highest number of TV households after Maharashtra, as per BARC India universe study .

Time is also ripe for Viacom18 to enter the Tamil market as the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has given a provisional digital addressable system (DAS) licence to the state government-owned Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TACTV).

Arasu will have to digitise its roughly 7-million subscriber base within three months. Tamil Nadu is the only state that has not seen DAS implementation right from Phase I due to a tussle between state and central government over the denial of licence to Arasu.

Arasu, the biggest distribution platform in the state, can make or mar the chances of any TV channel. Without getting distributed on Arasu, no channel can reach its target audience in the state.

The digitisation of TV homes in Tamil Nadu is a boon for broadcasters as it will bring transparency in subscriber numbers and bring down the carriage fee.

While the distribution side of things is expected to get better, Colors Tamil will have to face competition from Sun TV Network’s flagship brand Sun TV, which virtually dominates the Tamil market with a large market share. Such is Sun TV and its movie sibling KTV’s dominance that the top two spots are reserved for these channels.

The two national networks Star India and ZEEL are vying for the third spot. Star India entered the Tamil market via acquisition of Vijay TV, which was later re-branded as Star Vijay, while ZEEL launched its Tamil GEC Zee Tamil in 2008.

Tamil Nadu will be the second market in South India where Viacom18 is setting up shop. It is a dominant player in the Kannada market with two GECs, Colors Kannada and Colors Super. It also has a sizeable presence in other regional markets like Marathi, Bangla, Odia and Gujarati.

With the new launch, Viacom18 will expand its fleet of regional GECs to seven. Colors Tamil will be Viacom18’s third channel in the South market.

Sudhanshu-Vats“Driving regional aggressively is one of our foremost strategic thrusts. Given that almost 60% of our country speaks in regional languages and this market is under-indexed on television, it is imperative that this segment will continue to grow rapidly in the years ahead,” said Viacom18 group CEO Sudhanshu Vats.

“While Colors Super was aimed at deepening our presence in the Kannada genre where Colors Kannada is an undisputed leader, the launch of Colors Tamil is a step towards widening our reach in regional markets by entering the largest regional market in the country,” he added.

According to a recent BARC India study, viewers in Tamil market like other Southern states begin their TV viewing earlier than the Hindi-speaking market (HSM) and also wind up earlier than HSM.

Movie is the most sought-after programme theme, followed by serials. The two themes form almost 75% of all content consumed on TV. Miscellaneous programmes like reality shows, animation content, religious and health content are the third most consumed content. News and sports complete the top 5 programme themes in the market.

What will work to the company’s advantage is the non-fiction format and fiction formats that it owns. The BARC study had revealed that Tamil-dubbed Hindi content forms a sizeable chunk of original content of many Tamil GECs including Sun TV. In fact, Polimer TV owes its success entirely to the Hindi content dubbed in Tamil that it airs on its channel.

That said, original content, fiction as well as non-fiction, is the bed rock of content strategy of all broadcasters.

“The Tamil content market is highly competitive and well-primed for disruption, making this the opportune time for our entry. We look forward to delighting the Tamil content aficionado with the latest offering from the house of Viacom18,” noted Vats.