The joint venture between Reliance Broadcast Network and CBS Studios International launched its first channel in India, Big CBS Prime, on November 29th. Besides Big CBS Prime, .the two partners are planning to initially launch at least two other English language entertainment channels into India, which is one of the most vibrant multichannel markets in Asia.
At launch the channel had secured distribution on a number of cable operators, including Reliance Big TV, Digicable, Den Networks and Hathway, and also inked distribution deals with InCable, Airtel DTH and 7Star for a total reach of about 20 million homes across India. The channel will also be available on AsiaSat35, a widely available satellite platform in Asia and Australia.
The channel's focus on U.S. programming has opened up a number of new sales opportunities for the U.S. distributors in India. CBS Studios International is providing a number of high profile hits like NCIS and the channel will have preferred access to the distributor's new shows. Big CBS Prime has also acquired movies from NBC Universal and Sony and is in talks with other international studios to acquire other hit Hollywood films.
Another key component of the channel's programing strategy is to localize international shows and Big CBS Prime is currently working to develop an Indian format of Entertainment Tonight.
"The launch of Big CBS Prime is the first step towards addressing the current need gaps of Indian viewers for internationally acclaimed quality programming," noted Tarun Katial, CEO of Reliance Broadcast Network, in a statement regarding the channel's strategy and programming.
Adding that Indian viewers have traditionally waited nine months or more for new U.S. fare to reach India, Katial noted that these delays and the lack of content exclusivity had mean that "English programming as a category is highly under-developed. With our exclusive range of programming mix, Big CBS is uniquely posed to grow the size of this market."
Big CBS is planning to air some U.S. shows within 24 hours after their appearance in the U.S.
As part of its ad sales strategy the network is planning to target luxury brands, which have increased their ad spend by about 43% in the last four years in India.
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