Reports: Viacom18 to launch Bollywood channel

Company eyeing regional language, new music channels

NEW DELHI -- Joint venture Viacom 18 Media Pvt Ltd. is reportedly planning to launch a Bollywood movie channel to enhance its existing bouquet, which includes top rated Hindi general entertainment channel Colors, Indian media reported Friday.

Quoting unnamed sources, local media reported that Viacom18 was also planning a regional channel in the Marathi language and a music outlet to supplement international music channel Vh1  India and MTV India, which is largely dominated by reality shows and other format programming.

When contacted, a Viacom18 spokesperson offered no comment.

Viacom18 was launched in May 2007 as an equal joint venture between Viacom Inc. and leading Indian broadcasting group Network 18. Colors debuted in July 2008 which quickly topped ratings to challenge long-established rivals such as News Corp.'s Star Plus and Indian player Zee TV.
While Colors also acquires Bollywood films, in recent months MTV India has also started to show youth-centric Bollywood films in an effort to widen its appeal.

After general entertainment channels, film channels are considered the next bet in garnering ratings. The movie channel space includes long-established rivals such as Zee Cinema and the recently-launched UTV Movies.

Unconfirmed reports also indicate that Viacom18 was very close to acquiring UTV Movies but the discussions fell through.