Disney Star unfreezes new channel launches, sets 15 March 2023 as launch date
After being postponed for many years, Disney Star is finally ready to launch its much-awaited channels and close some others amid the ongoing controversy over NTO 3.0.
The past month (February 2023) has seen a huge churn in the Indian TV industry, with the biggest event being a week-long removal of Star, Zee and Sony channels from many major cable TV platforms (also known as Multi-System Operators or MSOs) as a protest against increased channel prices under the New Tariff Order scheme, now referred to as NTO 3.0 instead of NTO 2.0. From 18 to 24 February, 3–4 crore cable TV viewers lost access to their favourite channels from these three broadcasters until the standoff was finally resolved after a week. (However, Reliance Industries’ Viacom18 was completely unaffected, as Reliance itself owns three major cable platforms — Hathway, Den and GTPL — in addition to its JioTV service.)
While the removal was a huge shakeup in and of itself, it also brings attention to another long-pending development: Disney Star’s launch of many upcoming channels and closure of some existing ones. Originally scheduled for 1 February 2023, it was delayed without any notice, likely as a result of the ongoing dispute between broadcasters and TV platforms over the outcome of the NTO 3.0 order. In addition, TV platforms had to not only sign contracts with broadcasters and implement the new tariffs but also update their packages and bouquets accordingly, which delayed the process.
This is not the first time this has happened, as the channels were originally supposed to launch at the end of 2021 but were indefinitely postponed, though some of them did launch throughout 2022 like Pravah Picture, Star Kiran and Vijay Takkar. The dispute between broadcasters and cable operators brought the matter to a flashpoint.
Now that the issue seems to be resolved, Disney Star has decided to proceed with the launch of its long-postponed new channels from Wednesday, 15 March, as well as shut down many of its existing underperforming channels. On Thursday (2 March) it published a notice on its website announcing the latest changes, though only the launches are mentioned and not the shutdowns. In addition, some DTH operators like Tata Play have announced their intention to launch the new channels and terminate some other channels from that date. However, the addition of two HD channels launched in 2022 — Pravah Picture HD (where Sun Direct is the only DTH platform to carry it) and Star Kiran HD (which is not available on any TV platform) — on DTH platforms is not known at this stage.
As a recap, these are the channels that are scheduled for launch: out of a total of 16 announced in late 2021 (not including Vijay Takkar), nine will be launching on 15 March 2023 and five (Super Hungama, Pravah Picture SD/HD and Star Kiran SD/HD) were launched in 2022, but Hungama HD and Jalsha Josh have been cancelled.
|No.||Name||Format||Language||Genre||Original launch date||Status|
|1||Star Gold Romance||Standard definition||Hindi||Movies||1 December 2021||Launching on 15 March 2023|
|2||Star Gold Thrills||Standard definition||Hindi||Movies||1 December 2021||Launching on 15 March 2023|
|3||Star Gold 2 HD||High definition||Hindi||Movies||1 December 2021||Launching on 15 March 2023|
|4||Star Movies Select||Standard definition||English||Movies||1 December 2021||Launching on 15 March 2023|
|5||Super Hungama||Standard definition||Multilingual||Kids||1 December 2021||Launched on 1 March 2022|
|6||Disney Channel HD||High definition||Multilingual||Kids||1 December 2021||Launching on 15 March 2023|
|7||Hungama HD||High definition||Multilingual||Kids||1 December 2021||Launch cancelled|
|8||Star Sports 1 Tamil HD||High definition||Tamil||Sports||1 December 2021||Launching on 15 March 2023|
|9||Star Sports 1 Telugu HD||High definition||Telugu||Sports||1 December 2021||Launching on 15 March 2023|
|10||Vijay Takkar||Standard definition||Tamil||Youth/Music||N/A||Launched on 10 October 2022|
|11||Vijay Super HD||High definition||Tamil||Movies||25 December 2021||Launching on 15 March 2023|
|12||Asianet Movies HD||High definition||Malayalam||Movies||25 December 2021||Launching on 15 March 2023|
|13||Jalsha Josh||Standard definition||Bengali||Movies/Sports||1 December 2021||Launch cancelled|
|14||Pravah Picture||Standard definition||Marathi||Movies||25 December 2021||Launched on 15 May 2022|
|15||Pravah Picture HD||High definition||Marathi||Movies||25 December 2021||Launched on 15 May 2022|
|16||Star Kiran||Standard definition||Odia||GEC||24 January 2022||Launched on 6 June 2022|
|17||Star Kiran HD||High definition||Odia||GEC||24 January 2022||Launched on 6 June 2022|
Similarly, these are the channels that were scheduled to shut down in December 2021, and all of these shutdowns will finally be allowed to take place on 15 March 2023, with the exception of Bindass, which will continue unaffected. Note that Marvel HQ was replaced by Super Hungama in March 2022. Also, Vijay Music was replaced by Vijay Takkar, as mentioned above.
This is the umpteenth time the broadcaster has tried to shut down Star World SD/HD and Star World Premiere HD, its long-standing English entertainment channels (with Disney International HD being the only one left in the genre), in addition to retiring the UTV brand (in favour of new Star Gold-branded channels) and discontinuing the struggling Marathi and Bengali Star Sports channels along with BabyTV HD.
|No.||Name||Format||Language||Genre||Original shutdown date||Status|
|1||Star World||Standard definition||English||GEC||1 December 2021||Shutting down on 15 March 2023|
|2||Star World HD||High definition||English||GEC||1 December 2021||Shutting down on 15 March 2023|
|3||Star World Premiere HD||High definition||English||GEC||1 December 2021||Shutting down on 15 March 2023|
|4||UTV Movies||Standard definition||Hindi||Movies||1 December 2021||Shutting down on 15 March 2023|
|5||UTV Action||Standard definition||Hindi||Movies||1 December 2021||Shutting down on 15 March 2023|
|6||UTV HD||High definition||Hindi||Movies||1 December 2021||Shutting down on 15 March 2023|
|7||Bindass||Standard definition||Hindi||Music||1 December 2021||Shutdown cancelled|
|8||Marvel HQ||Standard definition||Multilingual||Kids||1 December 2021||Replaced by Super Hungama in 2022|
|9||BabyTV HD||High definition||English||Kids||1 December 2021||Shutting down on 15 March 2023|
|10||Star Sports 1 Marathi||Standard definition||Marathi||Sports||1 December 2021||Shutting down on 15 March 2023|
|11||Star Sports 1 Bangla||Standard definition||Bengali||Sports||1 December 2021||Shutting down on 15 March 2023|
|12||Vijay Music||Standard definition||Tamil||Music||N/A||Replaced by Vijay Takkar in 2022|
In their stead, a number of new HD channels will go on air, including HD versions of Star Sports 1 Tamil and Telugu, which had been revealed by Sanjog Gupta (Disney Star’s Head of Sports) as a new offering ahead of the 2023 IPL season. This will help Star Sports go head-to-head with Reliance/Viacom18 and its JioCinema platform, which will stream the IPL for free this season and hence massively disrupt how people consume the biggest sporting event in the country, and one of the most money-rich tournaments in the world.
Also, the launch of two new regional movie channels — Vijay Super HD (Tamil) and Asianet Movies HD (Malayalam) — will serve as a big boost to the network’s regional portfolio, since its other regional movie channels Jalsha Movies (Bengali), Star Maa Movies (Telugu) and Pravah Picture (Marathi) are all available in HD, though the last is only on Sun Direct among DTH platforms. This leaves only Star Suvarna Plus (Kannada) as not having an HD feed planned. In the kids’ genre, Disney Channel HD will be the network’s first Indian kids’ channel — since the outgoing BabyTV HD is not an Indian channel — though unfortunately Hungama HD seems to be scrapped, as well as Jalsha Josh, which would have been a Bengali movies/sports channel.
Nevertheless, one can only hope that Disney Star will indeed follow through on its proposed launch plans after backtracking multiple times in the past. Given that a notice on the company’s website may not always be sufficient confirmation of the launches — as seen before — the real hope comes from the fact that Tata Play has revealed its intended channel numbers for the new channels. When the new channels are added by more DTH platforms, information on their availability will be published accordingly, though availability of Pravah Picture HD and Star Kiran HD could remain in the dark for a longer time period.
For more details on how these channel launches and closures by Disney Star will impact TV viewing across genres and languages, you can refer to our articles published in October 2021 (on regional channels, English/Hindi GECs/movie channels and kids’ channels) and December 2022. Though much has changed in the meantime — including the launch of some channels, like Vijay Takkar, and the cancellation of the launches of Hungama HD and Jalsha Josh — they are still useful to show their position in Disney Star’s portfolio and the overall Indian TV landscape.
Table of Disney Star’s overall network after these changes:
|Hindi||Star Plus (HD),|
Star Bharat (HD),
|Star Gold (HD),|
Star Gold 2 (HD),
Star Gold Select (HD),
Star Gold Romance,
Star Gold Thrills,
Star Utsav Movies
|Star Sports 1 Hindi (HD),|
Star Sports First
|English||Disney International HD||Star Movies (HD),|
Star Movies Select (HD)
|Star Sports 1 (HD),|
Star Sports 2 (HD),
Star Sports 3,
Star Sports Select 1 (HD),
Star Sports Select 2 (HD)
|Disney Channel (HD),|
|National Geographic (HD),|
Nat Geo Wild (HD),
Fox Life (HD)
|Tamil||Star Vijay (HD)||Vijay Super (HD)||Star Sports 1 Tamil (HD)||Vijay Takkar||7|
|Telugu||Star Maa (HD)||Star Maa Movies (HD),|
Star Maa Gold
|Star Sports 1 Telugu (HD)||Star Maa Music||8|
|Kannada||Star Suvarna (HD)||Star Suvarna Plus||Star Sports 1 Kannada||4|
|Asianet Movies (HD)||5|
|Bengali||Star Jalsha (HD)||Jalsha Movies (HD)||4|
|Marathi||Star Pravah (HD)||Pravah Picture (HD)||4|
|Odia||Star Kiran (HD)||2|
Thanks: Sarfaraz, DreamDTH Community Forums
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