Turner, Viacom ramp up Hindi TV

Contest shows aimed at 83 million cable, satellite viewers

NEW DELHI -- Turner International, Viacom and their Indian partners are piggybacking on the global success of Oscar nominee "Slumdog Millionaire," prepping a raft of reality and game show programming for two new Hindi channels.

An Indian version of "Poker Face," which offers 10 million rupees ($204,000) in prize money, will launch the Hindi entertainment channel REAL, Turner and partner Alva Brothers Entertainment said Thursday.

Targeting India's 83 million cable and satellite homes, REAL will face off with Colors, the Hindi channel launched last summer by joint-venture Viacom18.

In its own announcement Thursday, Colors said it will soon premiere "India's Got Talent," the first Asian version of the FremantleMedia international reality show conceived by Simon Cowell. Auditions being in February. The cash prize? Another 10 million rupees.

"Talent" will be Synergy Adlabs, the Reliance Big Entertainment unit responsible for the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."

Since its launch, Colors has enjoyed a string of top-rated shows including Indian versions of "Fear Factor" and "Big Brother" that, along with homegrown fiction programming, has made the channel a leader in the increasingly competitive world of Hindi general entertainment.

While Turner has been active in India via kids channels Cartoon Network and Pogo as well as its news broadcasting joint venture CNN-IBN, REAL marks the group's first foray into entertainment.

"Given the market's strong growth, extremely young population, penchant for media consumption and improving distribution delivery systems, India is one of our biggest growth opportunities," said Steve Marcopoto, president of Turner Broadcasting Systems Asia Pacific.

Launching in March, REAL is tailor-made for "Neo-Indians" and will offer a mix of fiction and reality shows, said producer Real Global Broadcasting, the joint venture Turner formed in 2007 with Alva Brothers, an offshoot of brothers Niret and Nikhil Alva's New Delhi-based production company Miditech.

"Poker Face" will be followed by "Sarkaar Ki Duniya" (The World of the Ruler) -- in which 18 Indians must transform a remote island under the scrutiny of an autocratic ruler -- and the youth-targeted drama "Hindi Hai Hum" (We Are Hindi).