DreamDTH Explains: An overview of Hindi entertainment channels (GECs) in India today

In the first of a series of ‘explainer’ articles, this article discusses the various types of Hindi entertainment channels, which ones are more successful than others and which audiences they target.

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Estimated reading time: 20 minutes, 8 seconds

Doordarshan channels

We would be remiss not to touch upon the Hindi channels of the public TV broadcaster Doordarshan. While some of them are generalist channels, others are dedicated to serving a specific section of society, such as farmers and educators. These, then, are the Hindi non-news channels that are operated by Doordarshan (news channels are covered in a separate article): DD National, DD Bharati, DD Retro, DD Kisan and DD Gyan Darshan. Of these, DD National is the only one to be available in HD, but this HD feed is available only on DD Free Dish and terrestrial DTT, not on any private DTH operator.

Briefly, their purpose is as follows:

  • DD National: The nation’s oldest and most widespread channel, and the flagship property of Doordarshan. It airs various entertainment shows, in addition to news programming and other events of national and patriotic relevance. We have discussed how DD National is trying to reinvent itself in our recent article on its latest rebrand.
  • DD Bharati: This channel is dedicated to India’s heritage of arts and culture, and its programming is largely produced by various Government cultural and educational institutions like the Sahitya Akademi and IGNOU. Indian traditional music, drama, dance, arts and other cultural shows are aired.
  • DD Retro: This is a new channel launched in April 2020, when the nationwide lockdowns just started. In particular, it achieved popularity with its record-breaking telecasts of Mahabharat and Ramayan, making them the most-watched TV shows in the world at the time, though its viewership has since fallen. Nowadays it shows classic Doordarshan TV series from the 1980s and 1990s.
  • DD Kisan: Dedicated to the Indian farmer, this channel was launched in 2015 and airs various informative shows on agriculture, weather, how to improve production and irrigation, etc. It draws inspiration from the agricultural show Krishi Darshan on DD National, which has been on air since 1967.
  • DD Gyan Darshan 1/2: The two Gyan Darshan channels are run as a partnership between Prasar Bharati, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) and ISRO. They have been on air since 2000, but were temporarily off air between 2014 and 2017. Several other educational channels have been launched in recent years, like the Swayam Prabha channels, in addition to state-level educational channels such as the Vande Gujarat channels, Kalvi TV in Tamil Nadu, T-SAT Nipuna and Vidhya in Telangana, and Kite Victers in Kerala.
Some of Doordarshan’s Hindi TV channels, also including DD News, DD Sports, DD India and DD Urdu

All these Hindi GECs serve a large proportion of the Indian population and provide quality content and entertainment every day, so it is no surprise that despite the widespread adoption of OTT platforms — including YouTube — and mobile content consumption, they still command the largest share of the viewership among Indian TV channels.

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Avatar of Soham Bhadra
Soham Bhadra

Soham is a Computer Science graduate from NTU, Singapore, with an active interest in the Indian TV and entertainment industry. He publishes freelance articles and shares his insights primarily on the Indian TV industry and DTH operators. He has a passion for words and reflects that through his articles.

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In the first of a series of ‘explainer’ articles, this article discusses the various types of Hindi entertainment channels, which ones are more successful than others and which audiences they target.

DreamDTH Explains: An overview of Hindi entertainment channels (GECs) in India today

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