Time Warner's Turner Pulls the Plug on Hindi Channel Imagine

The general entertainment channel was acquired from Indian broadcaster NDTV for $126.5 million in 2009, but it “has not performed as per expectations.”

NEW DELHI - Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, Inc. (Turner) announced Thursday its decision to cease business operations of its Hindi general entertainment channel Imagine TV, together with its  international feed.

Imagine was originally launched in 2008 as NDTV Imagine by leading news broadcasting group New Delhi Television as an attempt to enter the Hindi general entertainment market. This followed NBC Universal acquiring a 26 percent stake in NDTV for $150 million.

STORY: Turner Asia concludes NDTV Imagine buy

The Hindi channel market includes global players such as News Corp.'s Star India, joint venture Viacom18 and Sony Entertainment Television along with India's Zee Television. NDTV Imagine was acquired by Turner Broadcasting in 2010, which acquired a 92 percent stake in the venture for $126.5 million, which included $50 million for funding the business which saw the channel rebranded as Imagine TV

“Imagine TV has not performed and grown as per expectations. While some programmes  delivered satisfactory ratings, overall the channel was unable to achieve the ratings consistency  needed to sustain the business and support continued investment,” said Turner International India, South Asia, MD Siddharth Jain, in an official statement. “As a result, Turner made the carefully considered decision to cease operations of the channel. We are grateful to the Imagine team, which includes some of the most talented and creative people in the Indian media industry. We will use our best endeavors to make this as smooth a transition as possible for them. The company remains committed to future investments and long-term participation in India... We will continue to be leaders in the media and entertainment industry and to explore expansion opportunities in this important market."

Turner's India channels include HBO, CNN, Cartoon Network, POGO, WB, TCM and Boomerang. Imagine was the second attempt by Turner to establish its presence in the Hindi general entertainment segment which has an estimated market worth of about $555 million.

In 2009, Turner formed an equal joint venture, Real Global Broadcasting Pvt Ltd (RGBPL) with New Delhi-headquartered Alva Brothers Entertainment. RGBL launched Hindi channel Real in January 2009 offering a mix of reality and fiction programming but by September, Turner Broadcasting announced that it would be “downsizing” the venture since Real “did not get off to the start we aimed for” leading to the channel's eventual closure.

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