DreamDTH Explains: An overview of Hindi movie and news channels in India

In this instalment, we go through the various other genres of Hindi TV channels such as movies, news, music, devotional and sports channels.

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By Soham Bhadra

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This is the second article in the ‘explainer’ series where we break down the various genres of television channels in India, culminating with an analysis of the grand merger of Zee and Sony. Having already talked about Hindi entertainment channels in a previous article, we discuss Hindi movie channels and news channels here.

We cover the following genres, each on a different page. You can navigate to them using the Table of Contents.

Multilingual channels — such as food/lifestyle/travel channels, knowledge/infotainment channels and kids’ channels — will be covered in a separate article on English and multilingual channels, even though many of them (such as Epic TV and Food Food) are Hindi channels without any other audio feed. Music, devotional and sports channels will also be covered separately.

Pay movie channels

As with the entertainment channels, each of the four major broadcasters — Disney Star, Zee, Sony and Viacom18 — has a presence in the Hindi movie sector with a number of channels. They are summarised in this table. Note that UTV Movies, UTV Action and UTV HD are scheduled to be replaced by Star Gold Romance, Star Gold Thrills and Star Gold 2 HD at some point in the future, but this will not happen unless Disney Star lifts its months-long embargo on launching new channels.

BroadcasterDisney StarZeeSonyViacom18
FlagshipStar Gold (HD)Zee Cinema (HD)Sony Max (HD)Colors Cineplex (HD)
SecondaryStar Gold 2&pictures (HD)
Classic (1960s to early 2000s)Zee ClassicSony Max 2
Niche/arthouseStar Gold Select (HD)&xplor HDColors Cineplex Bollywood
Older Hindi movies (non-classic)UTV MoviesZee Bollywood, Zee Action
Rural-focused (available on DD Free Dish)Star Utsav MoviesZee Anmol CinemaSony WahColors Cineplex Superhits
Hollywood dubbedUTV Action, UTV HD
Total (SD + HD)9 (6 + 3)9 (6 + 3)4 (3 + 1)4 (3 + 1)

How are the Hindi movie channels performing in 2022?

On the whole, most of the mainstream Hindi movie channels nowadays devote much of their schedule to South Indian movies (mostly Telugu, often also Tamil and Kannada, but almost never Malayalam — unless it is a film like Minnal Murali). Sony Max in particular has lost out by excessively showing South Indian and Hollywood movies at the expense of its Bollywood library, and it does not have a wide variety of channels for its Bollywood library, except the classic channel Sony Max 2.

Meanwhile the Zee network — despite having plenty of channels at its disposal such as Zee Cinema, &pictures, Zee Bollywood and &xplor HD — is often guilty of not properly utilising its wide library of movies, whether due to over-repetition of a few titles or not showing enough Hindi movies compared to South ones.

On the other hand, Star Gold has stuck to its core proposition of offering Hindi movies and staying away from South Indian ones, and this has brought it (along with its sister channels like Star Gold 2, UTV Movies and Star Gold Select) great benefits in terms of ratings, though not as much as the tremendous success of Goldmines. The Tamil movie Vikram is one of the very few from the South to go to Star Gold in 2022, not counting Liger.

Viacom18, too, has managed to do somewhat well in terms of scheduling Hindi movies on Colors Cineplex Bollywood and the HD version of Colors Cineplex, but it still has a lot of catching up to do with Star Gold.

This is in spite of Star and Viacom18 not having a large number of successful TV premieres in 2022. Most of Star Gold’s premieres this year were released by Yash Raj Films (Bunty Aur Babli 2, Jayeshbhai Jordaar, Samrat Prithviraj, Shamshera) or Dharma Productions (Liger, Brahmastra — though Gehraiyaan and Jugjugg Jeeyo are with Viacom18), as well as Disney+ Hotstar releases (A Thursday, Kaun Pravin Tambe, Good Luck Jerry, Cuttputlli, Babli Bouncer), many of which were co-produced with Star Studios. Of the films released in theatres so far (before Brahmastra), all have been failures at the box office.

Colors Cineplex, meanwhile, has Viacom18 Studios and Jio Studios productions — such as Dasvi, Laal Singh Chaddha and Vikram Vedha — in addition to the aforementioned Dharma Productions films and smaller films like Rocketry: The Nambi Effect.

Most Anticipated Indian Movies of 2022
RRR and KGF: Chapter 2 are among the very few Indian films to succeed in 2022. Most others before Brahmastra have failed spectacularly

In contrast, Zee Cinema and Sony Max have a far more successful roster of premieres in 2022. Zee Cinema has the Hindi version of S.S. Rajamouli’s global blockbuster RRR under its belt (though the South Indian versions are with Star) in addition to two other Alia Bhatt-starrers, Gangubai Kathiawadi and Darlings. It also has The Kashmir Files, which was a major box-office success, as well as Runway 34, Jersey, Raksha Bandhan and others. (Not every one of these has been successful, though: Heropanti 2, Radhe Shyam, Dhaakad, Bachchhan Paandey and Do Baaraa were rejected by critics and audiences alike.)

Sony Max, meanwhile, has another mega-blockbuster in its kitty in the form of KGF: Chapter 2, in addition to Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, one of the biggest Hindi hits this year, and other smaller films such as Anek, Ek Villain Returns, Jalsa, Looop Lapeta and Major (the last two were produced by Sony Pictures International Productions, India). But unless Zee and Sony double down on their intent to give adequate airtime to their Hindi movies — whether they be the latest releases, films a few years old, or classics — and cut down on South Indian dubs (apart from national blockbusters like the Baahubali and KGF films), their market share will continue to be eaten up by not only Star Gold and its siblings but, more importantly, by Goldmines, which is now the biggest Hindi movie channel and one of the top TV channels in India across all genres. The phenomenal rise of Goldmines is explored further below.

For further reading, check out our article on how Disney Star’s Hindi movie channels are outperforming all their competitors, which has a detailed analysis on what each broadcaster is doing better or worse than the others. Note that this was published last year and therefore does not include 2022 releases.

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Soham Bhadra

Television Analyst

77 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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Uhm, could've been done better in my opinion, it's a very superficial and at the same time haphazardly explained.

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Uhm, could've been done better in my opinion, it's a very superficial and at the same time haphazardly explained.

Thanks for the feedback. Let me know what you would like to have included. But I cannot get political.

The article is intended for those who are new to the industry and so isn’t going to be in as much detail as some of my other articles.

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