By PATRICK FRATER
HONG KONG – India’s UTV and Malaysia’s Astro Monday give official start to youth TV channel Bindass, amid a fanfare that makes it one of the most expensive net launches in the country’s history.
Channel, in soft launch for the past couple of weeks, is available in some 50% of Hindi-speaking cable homes and is also carried by the one year old Tata Sky satellite service.
Backers have committed Rupees2.7 billion ($66 million) for the first three years of operation and a launch budget of $12 million.
The youth focused general entertainment channel (‘bindass’ translates roughly as ‘carefree’) will quickly be followed by launch of Bindass Movies and up to four more related channels before April.
Early marketing will concentrate around a reality show “Bingo Bindass Go to Space Contest” in which contestants vie to be India’s first space tourist. Programming schedule should lead viewers who stick with the show up to the “Lagegi” comedy show that is key to the net’s brand.
“We are delighted to give Young India a historic opportunity to fly to space,” Zarina Mehta, CEO, Bindass said. “You don’t have to be a millionaire or an astronaut; you just have to be bindass – fun frank free and fearless.”
Other skeins include “Sun Yaar Chill Maar,” a comedy show on the lives of five college friends and “3rd Degree,” show featuring Ugesh Sarcar – India’s leading street-magician performing live acts and stunts. Previously announced was “Shakira,” India’s first female action-hero series.
Imports are likely to include extreme sports, action, thrillers, horror shows and over 100 int’l movies.
Subsidiary channel launches may include other local language variants and group wants to build the brand for a year in India before taking it to auds in Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
UTV Global Broadcasting, the holding company for all of UTV’s TV interests recently hinted that it was seeking a strategic investment partner.