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Sony Pictures Television’s India unit Multi Screen Media and BBC Worldwide have partnered to launch Sony BBC Earth, according to a joint announcement.
This a first for BBCW in India to launch a co-branded channel with a local partner, “a pioneering model” according to the company’s president global markets, Paul Dempsey. BBCW has been rebuilding its India presence after it pulled the plug on two of its channels here, BBC Entertainment and kids channel CBeebies, in 2012 after five years of operations, citing “challenging” economics for channel operators. Since then, BBCW has been licensing some of its content via various output deals.
BBC Earth is a brand used by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the public service broadcaster, to market and distribute the BBC’s natural history content to countries other than the U.K. BBC Earth has distributed titles such as Frozen Planet, Life, Blue Planet and Planet Earth while its theatrical film unit has produced titles such as One Life (2011), Walking with Dinosaurs (2013) and Enchanted Kingdom (2014).
Sony BBC Earth is a joint venture between MSM and BBC Worldwide “with MSM owning the majority stake,” said MSM CEO N. P. Singh, adding, “The channel will combine information and entertainment in real surroundings.”
While financial details were not given, the companies said the joint venture was awaiting regulatory approval “for which the process is underway.” A launch date will be announced later for the HD channel, which will be available in English, Hindi and Tamil across India.
MSM’s bouquet of channels include flagshhip Hindi entertainment channel SET (Sony Entertainment Television), Hindi movie channel MAX, English movie channel PIX, English entertainment channel AXN and sports channel SIX, among others.
BBCW’s recent licensing deals include a VOD deal with leading direct-to-home service TataSky, which offers the BBC On-Demand property. It features shows such as Luther, starring Idris Elba; The Honorable Woman with Maggie Gyllenhaal; and Burton and Taylor, starring Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter. Similarly, BBCW earlier licensed all nine seasons of the rebooted Doctor Who series to air on 21st Century Fox-owned Star India networks’ FX Channel.
In addition, BBCW’s Mumbai-based production unit has been producing a successful local version of its property Dancing With The Stars, which airs on Viacom18’s Colors channel. Last year, BBCW also ventured into producing original Hindi language fiction shows targeting youth audiences for MTV India.
BBCW has also produced another local fiction show, soap drama Dil Ko… Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai (The Heart Wants To Live Again) targeting a wider audience for India’s state-owned broadcaster Doordarshan.
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