Special Report: UK Asian TV channels feeling the pinch

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With pressure mounting on Asian TV broadcasters to perform, there’s a number of TV channels that will be considering their position and possibly their future. Not only are Asian TV broadcasters suffering from a significant decline in viewing figures, there’s also the current threat from digital platforms from Netflix and Amazon Prime and Indian services Hotstar, ZEE5 and Voot.

BizAsiaLive.com looks at some of these Asian TV channels that are feeling the pinch.

Zing, Living Foodz & &TV
ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Limited is rumoured to be downsizing its operations in the UK, with plans to boost the market presence of its digital offering, ZEE5. Industry sources say that a number of its channels could switch to digital-only, with linear services on traditional television being phased out.

While Zing continues to perform well for the network, it is primarily a channel targeting the youth and may connect better online amongst younger audiences. Similarly, Living Foodz hasn’t performed as well as market expectations despite a decent reach for the channel. Its numbers also remain lower than its predecessor, ZEE Punjabi, which it replaced earlier this year. &TV is ZEE Network’s second entertainment channel and has fallen considerably in UK ratings since its inception. With a weekly reach sitting below 200,000 viewers per week, can the numbers justify &TV’s existence in the UK market in its current form?

Geo Kahani
The second entertainment channel from Geo Network has had uphill task to make a mark since its launch in the UK market after the closure of Geo Tez. Despite a number of attempts to revive the channel, Geo Kahani remains amongst the least watched Pakistani entertainment channels.

News18 & Rishtey
Gone are the days when broadcasters launched secondary channels to boost numbers for their entire network. With main channels feeling the heat, there’s extra pressure on secondary channels to pull in viewers and generate revenues. Rishtey, a channel, which kicked off the era of broadcasting re-run shows, has seen its popularity wane. Old shows from various broadcasters are readily available online, which is making the survival of smaller channels that little more difficult. IndiaCast’s news channel, News18 has been one of the least watched South Asian news channels in the UK since it launched in the market. Despite its low ratings, News18 may have survived previously but with a tighter grip on outgoings these days, is the time finally up for News18?

Sony Mix & MTV Beats
The audience of music channels is known to be rather niche. Despite B4U Music holding on to the lead in the genre, other channels are certainly finding the tough going. MTV Beats, which was launched with much fanfare, has remained on the lower spectrum and is these days beaten regularly in the ratings by Sony Mix. It is worth noting that Sony Mix wasn’t really given any promotional launch and has survived on cross channel promotional activities and word-of-mouth. With transmission costs rising and advertising pie getting smaller, it will be interesting to see what role niche music channels like these play in the overall picture.

A Plus
When A Plus was on BARB, the channel’s audience was questionable, with low viewing figures not helping its perception in the market. After a few months since it ceased reporting BARB data, A Plus has launched a number of new shows, hoping to garner interest without official viewing figures. As well as fighting off the image from its poor run of viewing figures, A Plus is also in contention with other Pakistani entertainment giants like Hum TV, Geo TV and ARY Family, which have been performing a lot better. Whether or not A Plus will be able to shrug off its previous perception and move on to a glossier outlook, remains to be seen.

This report was published as a forecast on what could happen in the UK Asian TV market. The above is an opinion piece, with no suggestion of broadcasters closing any of its services.

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