As B4U Network gears up for the launch of its entertainment channel, B4U Plus in the UK, BizAsiaLive.com’s Raj Baddhan caught up with Ashok Shenoy, Head of International Business, B4U Network (Europe). Shenoy spoke about the channel’s plans, its tie-up with A Plus Europe and the challenges it may face.

What’s the ethos of B4U Plus?
B4U Plus is a General Entertainment Channel (GEC), which predominantly showcases Pakistani drama series, lifestyle shows and Bollywood movies targeting females.

B4U Network has taken up the challenge to launch B4U Plus in a rather tricky time for Asian TV channels in the UK, you must be very confident about the channel’s fortunes?
As with every move in the broadcast industry there is always a risk, however we are hoping that we are moving into a market where we believe there is a loyal target audience. We feel that as a GEC channel with a focus on Pakistani dramas and entertainment specifically targeted at the women in the household puts us at an advantage. Again, the risk is there and we are expecting slow organic growth for B4U Plus, as we trial our viewers and acquire new content regularly.

B4U Plus also has a new programming schedule, so it will be a mix of new drama series and local programming. We are hoping that the viewers enjoy the new selection of programming that has been selected.

B4U Movies has done exceptionally well in UK ratings, while B4U Music dominates the music genre, where do you see B4U Plus ranking when it launches?
It is hard for us to position B4U Plus before the channel has launched, however launching B4U plus in the UAE was a success for us and we wanted to replicate this in the UK.

B4U Plus has signed a content syndication deal with A Plus, tell us more about the type of shows it will air?
The channel will mainly showcase Pakistani dramas and lifestyle shows, however there will still be a touch of Bollywood. We are hoping to also air some of our content from B4U Plus in the Middle East, again this will include compelling dramas, cookery shows, and locally produced shows from the UK.

…the risk is there and we are expecting slow organic growth for B4U Plus, as we trial our viewers and acquire new content regularly.

It is known that A Plus did not generate huge numbers when it was signed with BARB in the UK, do you think repackaging the shows under the B4U Plus umbrella may work better?
One of the reasons A Plus may have struggled was also due to their EPG number on Sky, the channel has now moved from 771 to 738 under the B4U umbrella. As well as repackaging shows, we hope that the channel will also be more viewer-friendly and visually more attractive. B4U Plus also has a new programming schedule, so it will be a mix of new drama series and local programming. We are hoping that the viewers enjoy the new selection of programming that has been selected.

As well as Pakistani shows, B4U Plus will air lifestyle shows and films from the B4U library, have you got plans to show any original material and movie premieres?
That is definitely something we will be looking at in the near future.

Final message?
Thank you all for your continued support, all the channels under the B4U umbrella have been soaring especially during a time where things are seemingly more difficult in TV due to the changes in viewing habits. We hope you tune into B4U Plus on 15th April, Sky 738 and look forward to seeing how the channel is received over the coming months.

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