DreamDTH Explains: A guide to lifestyle and infotainment channels in India
Like the kids’ genre, these two genres have several common factors: multilingual audio feeds, a niche urban audience and a large presence by Warner Bros. Discovery.
In our previous DreamDTH Explains article we examined Indian kids’ channels in detail, where a large number of broadcasters, both big and small, have made their mark with offerings for all ages and languages. Now we have reached the last set of niche genres among Indian national channels: lifestyle channels (including travel and food) and infotainment channels, which are also called knowledge channels. Here, as with the kids’ genre, these channels have a number of language audio feeds, typically in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu but often expanding to Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali and Marathi. At the end we also briefly touch upon teleshopping channels, which are not widely liked and have lost their popularity, but nevertheless continue to exist. After this article we will turn to regional channels, with separate articles for South, East and West/North Indian languages, along with the merger of Sony and Zee.
Here, too, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is a significant broadcaster with multiple channels — ranging from the well-established Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC to smaller ones like Discovery Science and DTamil — with all of them being operated by Discovery India before WBD was formed. There are also a few from independent broadcasters, like Travelxp and Foodxp from Celebrities Management and Epic TV from IN10 Media, which hold their own in the face of competition from big players like Disney Star, WBD, Sony/Zee and Network18. (Note that it is Network18 per se, and not its subsidiary Viacom18, that operates History TV18 and the erstwhile FYI TV18 — though this is a moot point as the entire group is majority-owned by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, having many joint ventures with foreign broadcasters, including Comcast for the CNBC-branded channels and WBD for CNN-News18.)
Lifestyle, food and travel channels
This genre is closely related to the next one — infotainment or knowledge channels — in terms of both the target audience (upper-middle-class urban Indians) and the comparatively lower, concentrated viewership. However, there is a difference: the lifestyle genre has both big broadcasters (like Zee, Disney Star and WBD) and smaller ones like NDTV and Celebrities Management — which operates the Travelxp channels, including in 4K, that are available all over the world — whereas infotainment has mostly big broadcasters such as Disney Star, WBD, Sony and TV18, with IN10 Media’s Epic TV being something of an exception in this regard.
Table of lifestyle, food and travel channels in India
Below are the major lifestyle, food and travel channels in India, some of which have been known by a single name throughout their existence, like Travelxp, and others having changed their name and positioning multiple times over the years, particularly Fox Life and Zee Zest. Also, unlike kids’ and infotainment channels with their varied audio feeds, these channels seldom go beyond English and Hindi for their audio feeds: Tamil for Fox Life and Goodtimes — in addition to a dedicated Travelxp Tamil channel — and Bengali for Fox Life and Travelxp, with the likes of Telugu and Marathi not being present on any lifestyle channel. Moreover, Food Food is a Hindi-only channel, while FashionTV and Discovery Turbo are English-only channels as they have only foreign productions, and indeed FTV is a foreign-run channel.
|Broadcaster||Current channels||Audio feeds||Former channels|
|Disney Star||Fox Life (HD)||English, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali||Predecessors of Fox Life:|
• The History Channel (2003–2008)
• Fox History & Entertainment (2008–2011)
• Fox History & Traveller (May–October 2011)
• Fox Traveller (2011–2014; HD: 2012–2014)
|Warner Bros. Discovery||• TLC (HD)|
• Discovery Turbo
|English, Hindi (TLC);|
English (D. Turbo)
|Predecessor: Discovery Travel & Living (2004–2010)|
|Zee||Zee Zest (HD)||English, Hindi||• Zee Trendz (2005–2014)|
• Predecessors of Zee Zest: Zee Khana Khazana (2011–2015),
Living Foodz (2015–2020; HD: 2017–2020)
• Living Travelz (other Living-branded channels unlaunched)
|NDTV||Goodtimes||English, Hindi, Tamil||Previously known as NDTV Good Times (2007–2018)|
|Celebrities Management Pvt. Ltd.||• Travelxp (HD/UHD/4K HDR)|
• Travelxp Tamil
|English, Hindi, Bengali|
|Reliance (AETN18)||—||FYI TV18 (HD) (2016–2020)|
|Others||• FashionTV a.k.a. FTV|
• Food Food
|Hindi (Food Food);|
Brief backgrounds of each of these lifestyle channels are given below.
Fox Life: multiple rebrandings and shifts in positioning over two decades
Few Indian channels have undergone as many rebrands as renamings as this one. The food and lifestyle channel of Disney Star was the first Fox-branded channel in India, and is now the only one after the closure of English channels FX (2010–2017), Fox Crime (2010–2015) and Fox Action Movies (2012–2013, renamed to Star Movies Action, which closed in 2017). Fox Life has had multiple forerunners of varying natures, outlined below.
- First, the channel was launched as The History Channel on 30 November 2003, complementing the National Geographic Channel. Uniquely, it used the top left corner of the screen, like the Nat Geo channels and unlike all other present-day Disney Star channels, which use the standard top right.
- Then it was renamed to Fox History & Entertainment on 22 November 2008, shortly before the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, and refocused itself on documentaries and other highbrow-interest programmes. (After three years, History returned to India in October 2011 in the form of History TV18, part of the Network18 group now owned by Reliance — as discussed on the last page.)
- By 2011, the channel had shifted more to travel and lifestyle programming, so it renamed itself to Fox History & Traveller in May 2011. It updated its logo, replacing the word ‘History’ with ‘Traveller’, and soon enough, in July, it introduced another logo with an emphasis on ‘Traveller’, signifying that ‘History’ was on the way out. On 30 October 2011, it renamed itself once again to Fox Traveller, dropping the History part outright, days after the launch of History TV18. An HD feed was launched in October 2012, initially only on Dish TV before other DTHs added it in 2015–2016.
- Finally, the channel adopted the Fox Life name on 15 June 2014, bringing it in line with several international channels of this name. A graphics and logo change took place on 26 February 2018. Many other channels named Fox Life have ceased broadcasting, such as the Southeast Asian version, which replaced the Asian Star World in October 2017 and shut down exactly four years later in 2021.
Some of Fox Life’s shows are foreign productions, such as David Rocco’s Dolce Vita and Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, while others feature Indian chefs and hosts, including Twist of Taste with Vikas Khanna and Spirited Traveller with chef Kiran Jethwa. It has also had several Indian non-food travel shows in the past, such as Life Mein Ek Baar. These and others have built its reputation as a niche channel for young, intrepid Indian foodies and travellers, as shown to great effect in the popular movie Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), which has significant product placement of its previous avatar as Fox Traveller that neatly ties into the general wanderlust among the film’s young urban Indians.
WBD’s lifestyle channels: TLC (more female-oriented) and Discovery Turbo (fully macho)
Discovery India (now part of WBD) has been operating two lifestyle channels for many years now: TLC (launched as Discovery Travel & Living in October 2004, renamed to TLC in September 2010) and the male-oriented Discovery Turbo (launched in January 2010). None of Discovery’s other international lifestyle networks — like HGTV, Travel Channel, Food Network and Discovery Life — have ever been launched in India, with the exception of Investigation Discovery, as detailed on the next page. TLC launched its HD feed in June 2014 as TLC HD World, along with Animal Planet HD World, and both channels dropped the ‘HD World’ tag in 2019 — originally introduced with Discovery HD World, India’s first-ever HD channel, in 2010 — while Discovery Turbo, being a much smaller channel, is not present in HD.
Both TLC and Discovery Turbo show predominantly American shows with very few Indian ones. As of April 2023, TLC, as with its international counterparts, shows a number of franchises like Say Yes to the Dress (which also launched an Indian version on Discovery+), Extreme Homes, Cupcake Wars and Something Borrowed, Something New, as well as MasterChef Canada, though it did have several Indian shows in the past. Meanwhile, Discovery Turbo’s testosterone-driven focus on cars and garages is evident from the names of its shows: Diesel Brothers, All Girls Garage, Garage Squad, Fast n’ Loud and the like. Despite not necessarily being the most popular, it is nevertheless commendable that Discovery India and now WBD has persisted with these two channels — especially as several other channels like FYI TV18 have exited — as they add variety and off-the-beaten-track programming to Indian TV.
Zee Zest: all about Indian cuisine, similar to Food Food
Like Fox Life, Zee’s food and lifestyle channel has changed its name many times over the past decade. Originally launched in 2010 as Zee Khana Khazana — named after a longtime cookery show on Zee TV hosted by chef Sanjeev Kapoor — it rebranded in 2015 as Living Foodz and launched an HD feed in 2017. (Though there were plans for other Living-branded channels like Living Travelz and Living Rootz, these did not see the light of day.) In October 2020, Living Foodz rebranded as Zee Zest; its HD feed is available only on Tata Play (LCN 769) among DTH operators, with Airtel Digital TV strangely keeping the erstwhile Living Foodz HD (which remained on a different frequency) for some time before phasing it out altogether. Zee Zest predominantly shows Indian food and travel shows — similar to Goodtimes, and in contrast to Fox Life or TLC, which have more foreign shows — with names like Taste Ki Gully, Meetha To Banta Hai, Mast Maharashtra, Fit Fab Feast, Safari India and Goan Gullies, with the last being hosted by the celebrity duo Rocky and Mayur, who have been associated with Highway on My Plate on the then-NDTV Good Times for a long time.
Celebrities Management (Travelxp/Foodxp): a tiny broadcaster with an impressive global presence
A little-known company called Celebrities Management Private Limited (CMPL) has been running Travelxp HD, India’s first-ever HD lifestyle channel, since 2011. Originally present only on Dish TV — which removed it in 2019 before readding it in 2022 — it was later added by Tata Play and Sun Direct, but not Airtel Digital TV or d2h. Later a downscaled SD feed was launched (which is available on all pay DTHs except Dish TV and Sun Direct), as well as a Tamil offshoot, Travelxp Tamil (only on Tata Play and Sun Direct) — which, like DTamil (formerly Discovery Tamil) from Discovery, is a rare example of a regional-language sibling of a pan-Indian lifestyle or infotainment channel. Moreover, CMPL launched Foodxp, a dedicated food channel, in India in March 2022 — three years after being available overseas — with Tata Play being the only DTH to add it so far (on LCN 771) in October 2022. Foodxp has culinary shows of a similar nature as Zee Zest as well as Food Food, described below.
More impressive is the fact that Travelxp HD has spread its wings well beyond Indian shores, even launching a 4K HDR feed internationally. In July 2021, Tata Play added Travelxp 4K HDR — as of now India’s only permanent UHD channel — on LCN 2000 for the streaming-equipped Binge+ box. As such, despite being of Indian origin, Travelxp has travel and exploration shows catering to viewers from all over the planet. Travelxp’s Indian feeds (including the Tamil channel) have several shows tailored for local tastes — such as Xplore India and Thali: The Great Indian Meal — while its European and UK feeds cater to those markets with international productions. Additionally, CMPL also has an English free-to-air channel, Hi-Dost!, but it has no name recognition or recall due to its non-availability on platforms. Nevertheless, CMPL deserves praise for independently and successfully running a global travel channel, including in 4K, for a long time.
Goodtimes from NDTV: a long-lived lifestyle channel from a news broadcaster
Originally launched in 2007 as NDTV Good Times, as a partnership with Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher brand, Goodtimes (stylised as GOODTiMES) — as it was slightly renamed in 2018, dropping the NDTV logo — is the only non-news channel of the country’s first and most pioneering news broadcaster. (Several other NDTV channels launched in the late 2000s in partnership with the then-Turner India — like Imagine TV, a Hindi GEC, and Lumiere Movies, which showed foreign-language movies — were acquired by Turner and later closed.) It has several popular Indian lifestyle and food shows to its credit throughout its existence over 15 years: Highway on My Plate, hosted by foodie pair Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma; Band Baajaa Bride, a bridal trousseau show co-hosted by ace fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee; makeup and beauty show Get the Look; travel shows Life’s a Beach and Ten Things to Do Around the World; and several chef-hosted shows including Lock Stock and Two Smoking Tikkas by Marut Sikka, Chakh Le India by Aditya Bal and My Yellow Table by Kunal Kapur.
Moreover, Goodtimes has long been associated with the Making of the Kingfisher Calendar — where beaches and bikinis abound — due to its longtime association with the Kingfisher brand, which was also part of running the channel until 2015. It last rebranded in November 2013 with a young, fresh, peppy look, as expressed through its hashtag slogans #LiveYoung #LiveIndian — as well as #DesiAtHeart for its 13th anniversary in 2020. However, it has been a decade since then, and it could do with a refresh to keep up with the rest. For that matter, neither Goodtimes nor any of the other NDTV channels (NDTV 24×7, India and Profit/Prime) are broadcast in 16:9 aspect ratio — let along having an HD feed — and this is something that the country’s most respected news broadcaster must urgently address with its small but well-established cluster of channels, assuming that it has no plans to launch new channels, now that it has been acquired by the Adani group.
Independent lifestyle channels: FTV, Food Food
An independent food channel is Food Food, which was launched in 2011 by Turmeric Vision Pvt. Ltd., the brainchild of celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor. It is available only in a Hindi audio feed, and not in any other language, and of course it is an SD-only channel. Most of Food Food’s cookery shows are set in kitchens and do not travel — similar to shows on channels like Zee Zest, Goodtimes and Foodxp — as the dishes are meant to recreated at home by viewers, as is the case on several cookery shows on regional GECs. They cover a range of cuisines across age groups, with names including Hi Tea, Turban Tadka, Cook Smart, Mummy Ka Magic, Khansama and Royal Rasoi.
A long-standing presence on Indian television for two decades is the international fashion and beauty channel FashionTV or FTV, which has enjoyed an uninterrupted run in the country since being launched worldwide in 1997. As one might expect, it is mostly about ramps, runways and catwalks, with (mostly female) models exhibiting the latest trends in global fashion, as well as several other aspirational luxury shows. While FashionTV’s HD version has not been brought to India, it has nevertheless continued to present the best of global lifestyle and luxury for urban, affluent Indians throughout the existence of satellite television in the country.
Defunct channels: FYI TV18, Travel Trendz
A noteworthy former player in the Indian lifestyle sector is FYI TV18, part of the AETN18 joint venture between Reliance’s Network18 group (not part of Viacom18) and A+E Networks, in which Disney has a stake. Launched on 6 July 2016, it quickly went on to be an eminent player in the Indian lifestyle sector, and even claimed itself to be India’s number one lifestyle channel — with shows like Small Budget Big Makeover, Real 2 States Couples and Rivals in Law having an Indian cast and participants, as well as foreign shows like Bikinis and Boardwalks and Get Out. (While the HD feed was unofficially available since inception on Fastway Cable, it was formally launched only in October 2018; Sun Direct was the only DTH to carry it.) All of this came to an abrupt end when the channel was unfortunately axed on 8 July 2020 due to not performing well financially — despite its leadership in the genre — leaving History TV18 as the only channel of AETN18, which continues to show Small Budget Big Makeover.
Another independent travel channel in the early 2010s was Travel Trendz, which was available on a few DTH platforms like Airtel Digital TV, but not the then-Tata Sky. In 2016 its licence was replaced by a jewellery-themed teleshopping channel named Gemporia (added by Tata Sky under the previous Travel Trendz name) which rebranded to Indology after a few years, before ceasing operations entirely with the onset of the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020. Several other teleshopping channels have disappeared as well, with the genre as a whole almost entirely dead, as elaborated on the next page.
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