Basic cabler to air general entertainment

HONG KONG — Indian TV news group NDTV and former co-chief of Star India Sameer Nair are today launching the country’s latest general entertainment channel.

Imagine, which has been on a publicity charge since mid-November, claims to be different from other such nets and kicks off at 7 tonight with a reality show about dancing, rather than a traditional soap or drama series option.

The Hindi-language channel’s line-up includes light-hearted family soaps, period dramas and music-based shows. To deliver these it has partnered up with production houses including Sagar Arts, Hats Off Productions, Rajshri Films, SOL, Sphere Origins, Endemol India and Synergy Adlabs.

In the early stages Imagine is hoping that its killer application will be “Say shaava shaava,” a celebreality show airing at 8:30 p.m. that will run for 11 days straight. Skein is fronted by helmer and talkshow host Karan Johar. Having hosted Star’s celebrity chat show “Koffee With Karan” since 2004, he is now emotionally and financially invested in the success of Imagine.

Imagine, however, joins a crowded space populated by established market leaders Star Plus, Zee TV and Sony Entertainment Television, as well as recently launched INX and UTV’s youth-skewed net, Bindass. Other channels are planned by U.S. groups Viacom18 and Turner.

And, just as plans for a whole business empire rides on INX (Daily Variety, Jan. 4), there is a lot riding on Imagine. NDTV, which is said to be prepared to invest $100 million-$120 million in Imagine, has plans to move further away from its news hub and roll out the Imagine brand into other areas including movie production, youth and kids entertainment.

“The launch of this new channel is our next big leap towards our stated objective of becoming a global media powerhouse,” said NDTV chairman Prannoy Roy.

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