India's Viacom18 to Launch English-Language Channel With Hollywood Content

Viacom18 India executives, Viacom18 Group CEO Sudhanshu Vats - P 2015
Courtesy of Viacom18

Colors Infinity will offer programming from Warner, Sony, Fox, MGM, NBCUniversal and MGM, among others.

India's English-language TV entertainment space is getting a new entrant in the form of Colors Infinity from Viacom18, a joint venture between Viacom and big Indian TV group Network18.

Colors Infinity, unveiled on Wednesday which is expected to launch by the end of July, will compete with existing players, such as Fox's Star World, HBO, Sony Entertainment Television's AXN and Indian broadcaster Zee Networks' Zee Cafe, among others.

The entertainment channel will add to Viacom18's existing bouquet of entertainment channels, which include Comedy Central India, VH1 India, MTV India, kids channel Nick and flagship Hindi entertainment channel Colors.

Colors Infinity will offer content from Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Television, Twentieth Century Fox, Lionsgate, MGM, the BBC and Endemol Shine, among others.

Viacom18 Group CEO Sudhanshu Vats tells The Hollywood Reporter that the channel “will air shows across a wide spectrum of genres, but not feature films, save for a few biopics and documentaries.” Further programming details for the advertising-supported channel are expected to be announced later. It will also be offered in a high-definition version, Colors Infinity HD.

Vats estimates that the total viewership for English content in India across various platforms — from television to online — is about 210 million and predicts this number will rise to 250 million viewers “in a few years.” He also expects Colors Infinity to reach 30 million viewers “very soon.”

According to Viacom18, VH1 India is available in 45 million households and reaches more than 100 million viewers, while Comedy Central reaches 32 million households with over 70 million viewers.

Colors Infinity will be “co-curated” by Bollywood filmmaker and television personality Karan Johar and actress Alia Bhatt. They will help shape the channel's content strategy. “They will also be brand ambassadors for the channel and be involved in its marketing,” Vats explains.

As for the potential for Colors Infinity to offer some locally produced English content — as is the case with VH1 and Comedy Central — Vats says that “would be a logical step to further widen the channel's appeal.”