Star India, Viacom18, Zee Entertainment and Sony Pictures Networks India have made a comeback on DD Freedish with their second rung general entertainment channels Star Utsav, Colors Rishtey, Zee Anmol, Zee Anmol Cinema and Sony Pal at a base price for over Rs 15 crore per annum for each channel.
These five channels have been added on DD Freedish on a pro-rata basis for the period of June 10, 2020, to March 31, 2021.
It may be recalled that these four broadcasters had pulled the plug from DD Freedish from March 1, 2019, as TRAIâ€™s new tariff order implemented on March 31 did not allow the inclusion of FTA channels in the pay channel bouquet. The channels were priced between 10 paisa to Re 1 and made a part of the bouquets formed by the broadcasters.
The move resulted in a huge drop in these channelsâ€™ viewership â€“ up to 95% in the rural market. They expected to gain sustainable subscription revenue along with advertising revenue. While the subscription did not pick up as per their expectations, they lost advertising revenue also due to reduced viewership.
With the return on DD Freedish, the channels are expected to get their viewership back and earn advertising revenue once the economy improves in the post-Covid world.
As these channels become free to air, they are likely to benefit from TRAIâ€™s amended new tariff order termed as NTO 2.0, which is currently on hold due to the Covid crisis and a court case between broadcasters and TRAI. They will find a place on pay platforms also as NTO 2.0 mandates DPOs to carry 200 SD (plus mandatory channels) television channels at a basic NCF (network capacity fee) of Rs 130 per month.
For MPEG-2 slots vacated by the channels such as 9X Jalwa, Cinema TV, JK24x7, Showbox, Filmachi, ABP Ganga, Enter10 Bangla, Sangeet Bangla, Azby Dhakad, Prasar Bharti held its 45th e-auction on June 1.
With the addition of five new channels, DD Freedish is now offering 90+ entertainment and current affairs channels in MPEG-2, which is SD quality. On the same MPEG-2 slots on Freedish, there are 50+ educational television channels.
On MPEG-4, which is HD quality, DD Freedish offers 20+ entertainment and current affairs channels.