DD Free Dish onboards several new channels including Nazara and Star Gold Thrills

Among the new channels are Nazara, the second Hindi GEC of IN10 Media, after Ishara TV; the recently launched Star Gold Thrills; and Goldmines Movies and the relaunched Dhinchaak from Goldmines Telefilms.

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By Soham Bhadra

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In the 67th DD Free Dish e-auction held in March 2023, many new channels have won a slot on the government-owned free-of-cost DTH platform (over and above those already existing), and they have been added on Saturday, 1 April 2023, valid for a one-year period and subject to renewal. Some of them, like Nazara and Unique TV, are being newly launched by broadcasters and will be available on DD Free Dish from day one, while others, like Goldmines Movies and Dhinchaak, are rebrandings of existing channels.

This will provide them a major boost in terms of gaining popularity in north Indian rural and semi-urban markets, given the immense popularity of DDFD in northern and western India. However, this time around there are also a couple of channels in other regional languages, where DD Free Dish is not so widespread. The new channels are as follows:

  • Nazara and Azaad TV [Hindi GEC (General Entertainment Channel)]
  • Unique TV (possibly Hindi rerun GEC with kids’ content)
  • Star Gold Thrills [Hindi Movies (Hollywood dubbed)]
  • Goldmines Movies and Dhinchaak (Hindi Movies)
  • MH One Dil Se (Bhojpuri/Hindi Movies)
  • Dil Se Movies (Hindi Movies)
  • Bansal News [Hindi News (Madhya Pradesh/Chhattisgarh)]
  • Aastha Tamil (Tamil, Hindu Devotional)
  • Popular TV (Assamese Movies)

Below we briefly describe these channels and how their presence on DD Free Dish will expand the offerings of the platform. In addition, one of Doordarshan’s own channels has ceased broadcasting due to low viewership: DD Retro, launched at the start of the pandemic and famous for its record-breaking telecasts of Mahabharat and Ramayan.

Nazara: IN10 Media’s second Hindi GEC, after Ishara TV (plus relaunched Azaad)

IN10 Media — an independent broadcaster promoted by Anand Mahindra that operates channels like ShowBox Channel (the most popular Hindi music channel), Gubbare (kids), Epic TV (infotainment/knowledge) and Filamchi Bhojpuri — has launched its second Hindi entertainment channel, Nazara, to complement its existing Ishara TV, which is present on DD Free Dish but previously had an on-and-off relationship for a few months. (Interestingly, the slogan of Ishara is Zindagi Ka Nazara — which indirectly referred to a future channel!) Last year, Shemaroo had done the same with Shemaroo Umang, a women-oriented channel that supports the main Shemaroo TV. How Nazara will be positioned differently from Ishara remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Azaad TV from Beginnen Media — which ceased broadcasting in August 2022 — has been relaunched and readded on DDFD. This adds to an already large number of Hindi free-to-air (FTA) GECs on the platform, also including Dangal, Dangal 2, Enterr10, The Q and the Zee-owned Big Magic. However, the four FTA GECs from major broadcasters — Star Utsav, Zee Anmol, Sony Pal and Colors Rishtey — continue to be unavailable on DDFD after being removed in the previous e-auction in April 2022. It is unlikely that the four big pay broadcasters (Disney Star, Zee, Sony, Viacom18) will get these channels readded on DDFD any time soon, though their corresponding movie channels remain available.

Star Gold Thrills: new Hollywood dubbed movie channel from Disney Star

Unlike the FTA GECs, the FTA Hindi movie channels from the big four broadcasters — Star Utsav Movies, Zee Anmol Cinema, Sony Wah and Colors Cineplex Superhits — continue to be available on DD Free Dish, in addition to the Bollywood-focused Colors Cineplex Bollywood. This is in order to give competition to the blockbuster success of the Goldmines channels, whose unmatched library of South dubbed movies have propelled the main Goldmines channel to unheard-of heights in the weekly BARC rating chart, as it is now a permanent member of the top five. However, since most of these channels (except Colors Cineplex Bollywood) are dedicated to South Indian dubbed movies, there are very few options for Bollywood or dubbed Hollywood movies.

To this end, Disney Star’s new Hollywood dubbed movie channel Star Gold Thrills — a rebranding of UTV Action, with a similar schedule but a brand-new packaging — has been added on DD Free Dish shortly after it was launched on 15 March alongside many other channels, including Star Gold Romance. This will help to expand the popularity of Hollywood action movies among the Hindi heartland. It is only the second Disney Star channel available on DD Free Dish — after Star Utsav Movies, which will show 12 selected IPL matches live — since Star Utsav, Star Sports First, etc. have been removed from the platform.

Goldmines Movies and the relaunched Dhinchaak: two rebrandings

Thus far, Goldmines Telefilms has maintained four channels showing different types of Hindi movies, which have helped it to dominate the Hindi movie genre, leaving Sony Max, Zee Cinema and Star Gold far behind. These are as follows:

  • Goldmines (formerly Dhinchaak), the flagship channel that shows dubbed South Indian movies. It is one of the top 5 TV channels in India as per the BARC weekly ratings.
  • Goldmines Bollywood (formerly Dhinchaak 2), which shows classic and pre-2010s Hindi movies and hence competes with Zee Classic and Sony Max 2.
  • A separate Dhinchaak 2, which was intended to rebrand as Goldmines Action but did not do so for a long time.
    • Note that Airtel Digital TV has had both Goldmines Bollywood and Dhinchaak 2 since August 2022, but Tata Play does not have either of those channels, only the main Goldmines.
  • Goldmines Bhojpuri, which had a very limited distribution and was not available on most TV platforms other than DD Free Dish, unlike the other three channels.

With the latest e-auction results, Goldmines Telefilms has decided to rename two of its channels. This will see it reintroduce the Dhinchaak brand, exactly a year after it was scrapped with the rebrand of the main Dhinchaak channel to Goldmines — even though Dhinchaak 2 has continued to exist so far — and also launch a new Goldmines Movies channel for airing Hindi movies from the past couple of decades, including new releases like Shehzada. This latest set of rebrands has led to great confusion. Here we present the old and new names of the channels in both sets of rebrandings (1 April 2022 and 2023).

CategoryBefore 1 April 20221 April 2022–1 April 2023Since 1 April 2023
South Indian dubbed moviesDhinchaakGoldminesGoldmines (unchanged)
Classic/pre-2010s Hindi moviesDhinchaak 2Goldmines BollywoodGoldmines Bollywood (unchanged)
South Indian dubbed moviesDhinchaak 2 (intended rebrand
as Goldmines Action)
Hindi movies, past and presentGoldmines BhojpuriGoldmines Movies

Goldmines Telefilms will hence continue to stamp its authority on the Hindi movie genre, especially with more channels for Bollywood movies. This includes the recent release Shehzada, starring Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon, which is a remake of 2020’s blockbuster Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, the Allu Arjun- and Pooja Hegde-starrer whose Hindi TV rights are also with Goldmines. (The Telugu rights are with Gemini TV.) AVPL and Pushpa: The Rise — another Allu Arjun smash hit — have contributed tremendously to the explosive growth of the main Goldmines channel as the most popular Hindi movie channel in India, thanks largely to DD Free Dish.

Regional channels outside the Hindi/Bhojpuri belt: Aastha Tamil and Popular TV

Though DD Free Dish has a reputation for being popular only in northern and western Indian states, Prasar Bharati understands that it has to expand its presence across the rest of the country, and so created a dedicated R1 bucket in the latest e-auction for channels from other states. Only one channel has been successful in this bucket: Popular TV, an Assamese movie channel. (There is only one other Assamese movie channel — Indradhanu from Pride East Entertainment, which also operates the popular Rang, News Live and Ramdhenu channels — and there are no Assamese non-news channels in any genre from major national broadcasters.)

Additionally, a Tamil-language Hindu devotional channel has managed to bag a slot on DDFD: Aastha Tamil, which has been available on C-band satellite since November 2018 (along with Aastha Telugu and Kannada) but so far has not been added by any major TV platform. Aastha and Aastha Bhajan — the two existing channels from one of the country’s oldest devotional broadcasters, operating since 2000 — are both available on DDFD as well as private DTHs. Private South Indian channels have historically been extremely rare on DDFD, so this is a welcome change from the typical Hindi and Bhojpuri channels and will also help to expand Aastha Tamil’s presence and availability. Other Tamil Hindu channels include Sai TV, Jothi TV and SVBC 2, in addition to several Christian channels.

Unique TV: presumably a Hindi rerun GEC with kids’ content

One of the more interesting channels to be added on DD Free Dish in the latest e-auction is Unique TV, a new channel from COBOL Communications Pvt. Ltd. which has so far been showing various cartoon shows during its test transmission on C-band satellite. However, with its addition on DDFD, it has been showing some old comedy serials of Sony Sab, such as Yam Hain Hum (2014–2016) and Jijaji Chhat Par Hai (2018–2020).

Since Culver Max Entertainment’s rural-focused Hindi GEC Sony Pal — which typically shows old episodes of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah and C.I.D., in addition to several other Sony TV and Sony Sab shows — is not currently available on the platform, this can serve as a good choice for those wanting to see lesser-known older serials of Sony Entertainment Television and Sony Sab on DDFD, in addition to cartoon shows in the morning much like Zee’s DDFD offering Big Magic does.

Other channels: MH One Dil Se, Dil Se Movies, Bansal News

Several other channels from the Hindi/Bhojpuri-speaking stronghold region have been added on DD Free Dish in the latest e-auction, including MH One Dil Se from the Punjab-based MH One network that shows Hindi and Bhojpuri movies (previously Bhojpuri music); the unrelated Dil Se Movies, one of countless small Hindi movie channels (with the more well-known small Hindi movie broadcasters being Enterr10, B4U and Abzy); and Bansal News, a news channel serving Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Also a noteworthy mention is the Bharat 24 news channel (already available on DDFD) which has been continuously posting social media updates on the developments surrounding the e-auction, especially as not that many news channels have been able to bag a slot at their preferred price slab.

DD Retro goes off; may be replaced by DD Metro

Amid all these new channel launches on DDFD, there is an important shutdown: DD Retro, which was launched in April 2020 — when the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide lockdown had just started — and achieved fame on the back of airing telecasts of the iconic 1980s mythology serials Mahabharat and Ramayan. So much so that DD National’s telecasts of these serials made them the most-viewed shows in the world at the time — a spectacular achievement when the country had plunged into a years-long battle with the pandemic, which has finally been drawing to a close in 2023. (Doordarshan has historically been stronger in its historical and mythological content more than other Hindi shows, with Sony Entertainment Television also syndicating some of its long-running historical shows, like Porus, to DD.)

However, DD Retro could not sustain its popularity for long, and Prasar Bharati has decided to down the shutters on the channel from 1 April 2023. It intends to replace it with DD Metro — a reincarnation of a channel that was popular back in the 1990s (also known as DD2) — at some point in the future, but when it will do so is unknown as of now.

Regardless, the only outlet for watching classic 1980s/1990s Doordarshan shows has now ceased to exist, and one can only hope that DD Metro can reignite the nostalgia of twentieth-century Doordarshan programming — with a number of movies, serials and cartoons — as and when it hits the airwaves.

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Soham Bhadra

Television Analyst

85 articles published
Soham is a Computer Science graduate from NTU, Singapore, actively interested in the Indian TV and entertainment industry. He publishes articles and shares his insights on the Indian TV industry and DTH operators. He has a passion for words and reflects that through his articles.

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Updated thread title and sharing screenshots here because one thread created but that thread mixed up with everything like rebranding, adding something something.

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DD Kisan in place of DD Retro...

So prashant bro you was right about sports events when 3 sports events haopen dd kisan can be used by dd 😉

Popular TV added

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The logo of popular tv :blush2: :blush2:

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