Dish D2H adds seven new HD channels from Disney Star

d2h and Dish TV have always been the last to add new HD channels, long after Tata Play and Airtel Digital TV, so for them to add so many channels is completely exceptional and unexpected.

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By Soham Bhadra

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In a completely unexpected move, Zee-owned sister DTH operators d2h (focused on South India) and Dish TV (focused on the Rest of India, or ROI) — which have always lagged behind Tata Play and Airtel Digital TV in adding new channels — have added seven new HD channels that were launched by Disney Star in 2022 and 2023.

On Wednesday (2 August 2023), d2h added Asianet Movies HD (Malayalam) and Vijay Super HD (Tamil) — two new regional HD movie channels from India’s largest broadcaster — on LCN 3152 and 2868, respectively, thereby becoming the first DTH platform to add either of these two channels since they were launched on 15 March along with several other Disney Star channels.

The following day, on Thursday (3 August), it also added Star Sports 1 Tamil HD on LCN 2950 and Star Sports 1 Telugu HD on LCN 2432. These channels are also available for Dish TV customers in South India who have tuned their boxes to the ST2 satellite also used by d2h, with the same channel numbers.

On top of this, on Friday (4 August), Dish TV — more specifically, the SES8 and NSS6 satellites used by Dish TV for its non-South Indian customers — added two other HD channels from Disney Star which had hardly been added by anyone before: the Marathi movie channel Pravah Picture HD (LCN 1232) and the Odia GEC Star Kiran HD (LCN 1308).

These were launched in May–June 2022, though their BARC ratings have been far from satisfactory, and the former was available only on Sun Direct among DTH operators, plus some cable platforms in Maharashtra. However, Star Kiran HD — the first-ever HD channel in Odia, or indeed in any regional language outside the big six (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali and Marathi) — was never added by any TV platform in the country prior to Dish TV’s addition, and so Dish TV has become the very first to add it.

To round off the additions, Dish TV went further and added the kids’ channel Disney Channel HD, also launched in March, on LCN 976 — which was thus far available only on Tata Play — on Saturday (5 August). Note that none of these three channels are available on either d2h or Dish TV’s ST2 customers, reiterating the segregation between the two types of offerings for South and ROI subscribers.

This comes a month after competitor Airtel Digital TV added fellow Tamil HD movie channel Zee Thirai HD on LCN 779 on Friday, 23 June, where it is also the only DTH operator to carry that channel — but its Kannada counterpart Zee Picchar HD, the first and only Kannada HD movie channel (launched at the same time in September 2021), remains missing from all DTHs.

This is especially noteworthy since d2h has always been the worst out of the five pay DTHs in adding HD channels, especially with its focus on South Indian channels, as a result of which it has ignored several Hindi and English channels that are present on most other platforms. With its sister company Dish TV carrying a greater number of non-South HD channels — but still far less than Tata Play, Airtel Digital TV or Sun Direct — d2h has largely turned a blind eye to its HD offerings as a result. As such, Tata Play and Airtel Digital TV are far more likely to add new HD channels than d2h or Dish TV, so this is particularly shocking news. (Dish TV did add Star Gold 2 HD — which was also launched in March — almost on the same day of its launch, but the others were never on the cards.)

Moreover, this is a huge development in terms of the distribution of Disney Star’s new regional HD channels, which has been greatly limited thus far. Of the two regional HD channels it launched in 2022, Pravah Picture HD (which has deviated from showing only movies, and now also shows old serials of Star Pravah) was thus far present only on Sun Direct among DTHs, though several cable platforms in Maharashtra also carried it, but Star Kiran HD — whose SD version has struggled badly among Odia channels in the ratings chart — was so far not present on even a single TV platform, whether DTH or cable.

Similarly, among those HD channels launched in March, Star Sports 1 Tamil and Telugu HD were confined to Tata Play and Airtel Digital TV until d2h’s addition, and Disney Channel HD was exclusive to Tata Play, while Asianet Movies HD and Vijay Super HD were nowhere at all. There were rumours that d2h might add Star Sports 1 Tamil/Telugu HD before the IPL started at the end of March, but those proved to be false. Otherwise d2h and Dish TV were never in the race to add any of these channels, so for them to suddenly add so many HD channels was a move no one could have anticipated. This raises hopes of Tata Play and/or Airtel Digital TV adding them in the near future, and Sun Direct might want to join in on the action as well.

DTHs have generally been slow to add new HD channels nowadays — and d2h has been the slowest of all

When Disney Star launched a number of new HD channels in March, it was the first time since 2018 that more than two HD channels were launched in a year, with the intervening years witnessing a huge slump in TV broadcasters’ strategies, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant budget constraints. Nowhere was this more evident than at Disney Star, which for years repeatedly postponed the launches, rebrands and shutdowns of several channels, executing them only on 15 March 2023.

When the channels were finally launched, Tata Play was the only one to add most of the new HD channels — Star Gold 2 HD, Star Sports 1 Tamil/Telugu HD and Disney Channel HD — soon after launch, with Airtel Digital TV also adding these channels except Disney Channel HD. d2h and Sun Direct, somewhat strangely, did not add a single one of these new HD channels, despite the latter carrying Pravah Picture HD exclusively. (However, they did add the new SD English movie channel Star Movies Select, and indeed all DTHs except Airtel Digital TV did so.) Sadly, Vijay Super HD and Asianet Movies HD — like Pravah Picture HD and Star Kiran HD before them — remained missing from all platforms due to a last-minute change of plans, until the addition of all four channels on Dish TV/d2h now.

With this bumper addition from Dish TV/d2h, the availability of Disney Star’s 12 new channels across DTH platforms, including Pravah Picture and Star Kiran in both SD and HD, is as follows. All eight HD channels are available on either Dish TV (NSS6/SES8) or d2h/Dish TV (ST2), but never both; however, the four SD channels are all available on both platforms. The HD channel numbers on Dish TV and d2h are bolded below, including Star Gold 2 HD which has been available on Dish TV (NSS6/SES8) ever since its launch in March 2023.

ChannelLanguage and genreLaunch dateTata PlayAirtel Digital TVSun DirectDish TV (NSS6/SES8)d2h + Dish TV (ST2)Date added by Dish TV/d2hNo. of DTHs
Pravah PictureMarathi movies15 May 2022122853168112331485At launch5
Pravah Picture HDMarathi movies15 May 202289612324 August 20232
Star KiranOdia GEC6 June 2022175959765013091713At launch5
Star Kiran HDOdia GEC6 June 202213084 August 20231
Star Gold RomanceHindi movies15 March 2023323213338336321At launch5
Star Gold ThrillsEnglish movies
(Hindi dubbed)
15 March 2023325217341338329At launch5
Star Gold 2 HDHindi movies15 March 2023316214 357 At launch3
Star Movies SelectEnglish movies15 March 2023419 403578574At launch4
Disney Channel HDEnglish/Hindi kids’15 March 2023657  976 5 August 20232
Asianet Movies HDMalayalam movies15 March 2023    31522 August 20231
Vijay Super HDTamil movies15 March 2023    28682 August 20231
Star Sports 1 Tamil HDTamil sports15 March 20231550802  29503 August 20233
Star Sports 1 Telugu HDTelugu sports15 March 20231445929  24323 August 20233

These HD channels from Disney Star are far from the only ones to be newly launched by broadcasters in the past few years, only to be ignored by DTHs. From our comprehensive guide to HD channels across DTHs, many other new HD channels have failed to be added by DTH operators, or at most have been added by one or two DTHs, including the following. In any case, neither Dish TV nor d2h was ever in the running to add any of these channels, except MTV Beats HD.

  • Zee’s premium Hindi HD movie channel &xplor HD, launched four years ago in July 2019, is present only on Airtel Digital TV among DTHs, on LCN 235. Similarly, as mentioned, Zee’s Tamil HD movie channel Zee Thirai HD is present only on Airtel Digital TV, on LCN 779, while its Kannada counterpart Zee Picchar HD is nowhere at all.
  • All of the ETV Network’s HD channels, except the main ETV HD channel, are absent from all DTH platforms. These are the Telugu-language ETV Cinema HD and ETV Plus HD, and the multilingual kids’ channel ETV Bal Bharat HD, which is available in a whopping 12 languages — a record for any channel. Previously, the broadcaster had to shut down its two Telugu lifestyle channels ETV Life HD and ETV Abhiruchi HD since no one bothered to add two niche HD channels in a regional language.
  • Culver Max Entertainment’s Tamil/Telugu HD sports channel Sony Sports Ten 4 HD is present only on Sun Direct, on LCN 990. Conversely, Sun Direct is the only DTH platform not to carry its Hindi counterpart Sony Sports Ten 3 HD. Similarly, Sun Direct was thus far the only DTH to carry Pravah Picture HD — but it is also the only one not to carry competing Marathi movie channel Zee Talkies HD.
  • Tata Play is the only DTH to carry all three of Viacom18’s youth/music HD channels: MTV HD (Hindi youth), MTV Beats HD (Hindi music) and Vh1 HD (English music). No other DTH has MTV HD; the other two channels are also present on Sun Direct, while Dish TV has MTV Beats HD. d2h and Airtel Digital TV have none of these channels, which was much more of a problem when MTV and Vh1 were showing European football leagues like LaLiga and Serie A in 2021, before the Sports18 channels were launched.

One may also recall that Sports18 1 HD — at present Viacom18’s only HD sports channel — was available only on Sun Direct (LCN 983) for the first several months since its launch in April 2022. It was only with the start of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in November 2022 that DTH platforms rushed to add Sports18 1 in both SD and HD versions. It is a different matter that Reliance/Viacom18 has been very lethargic in launching more Sports18 channels or distributing them on DTHs — despite acquiring many sporting rights for them — as all its focus seems to be on its reinvigorated JioCinema streaming platform, which has not only the IPL digital rights but also several Western shows, including HBO originals. However, Viacom18’s slowness to get its niche channels added on DTHs has been a long-standing issue, well before the transformation of JioCinema into what aims to be the country’s largest OTT platform.

As far as traditional TV broadcasters are concerned, even though launching new channels may have slowed down in a new postpandemic Indian TV world shaped by NTO 3.0 — along with the shift to OTT platforms at the urban, premium end of the spectrum, and DD Free Dish at the rural end — there have still been enough developments in terms of new channel launches. Indian media now prepares for a future where longtime rivals Zee and Sony will likely become partners; Disney Star’s long reign at the top may change drastically; and Reliance, through Viacom18, JioCinema and heavy investments (led by former Star CEO Uday Shankar), has grand ambitions to become the next unbeatable Indian media giant.

In the face of this, the onus is on broadcasters and TV platforms alike to ensure that their channels are available on as many platforms as possible, and at affordable prices. Now that Dish TV and d2h have added Disney Star’s new HD channels, they — having been the most backward DTHs in terms of adding new channels so far — must understand this the most urgently and fill up the other big gaps in their existing channel offerings.

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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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List Updated with Addition of "Bangla Bharat" on Channel No.1478 & LCN change I Love on Channel No.471

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Great work, @Deep.S Like the details specially audio Quality, available audio feeds etc.

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