In an extraordinary move that had been anticipated for the past several months since it began its GSAT-24 migration in August, Tata Play, India’s largest pay DTH operator, has added 7 HD channels on Tuesday (31 October) from Disney Star and Zee, in addition to Nazara TV, IN10 Media’s secondary paid Hindi general entertainment channel. The four Star HD channels were added at Tata Play’s preferred time of 10 am, and the three Zee HD channels a few hours later at around 4 pm. The 7 HD channels — all but one of which are movie channels — and one SD channel are as follows. They have all been awaited for many months (or years, in the case of &xplor HD) and their addition by Tata Play is the biggest possible boost to their visibility and distribution.
|Tata Play LCN||Channel||Broadcaster||Language||Genre||Availability on other DTHs|
|185||Nazara TV||IN10 Media||Hindi||GEC||DD Free Dish + Dish TV NSS6/SES8 (4001)|
|333||&xplor HD||Zee||Hindi||Movies||Airtel Digital TV (235)|
|1227||Pravah Picture HD*||Disney Star||Marathi||Movies||Dish TV NSS6/SES8 (1232); Sun Direct (896)|
|1512||Vijay Super HD||Disney Star||Tamil||Movies||d2h and Dish TV ST2 (2868); Airtel (773)|
|1545||Zee Thirai HD||Zee||Tamil||Movies||Airtel Digital TV (779)|
|1633||Zee Picchar HD||Zee||Kannada||Movies||N/A|
|1758||Star Kiran HD||Disney Star||Odia||GEC||Dish TV NSS6/SES8 (1308)|
|1827||Asianet Movies HD||Disney Star||Malayalam||Movies||d2h and Dish TV ST2 (3152)|
*Tata Play’s EPG name states ‘Star Pravah Pictures HD’ with an extra ‘s’ in ‘Pictures’ but this is incorrect since some other Star channels like Jalsha Movies and Vijay Super do not use the Star prefix either, in addition to all Asianet-branded channels which do not use the Star logo at all.
Perhaps the most important HD channel addition by any DTH in 2023
The impact of these additions is tremendous and cannot be understated: at long last, many of the newest regional HD channels (especially movie channels) launched in recent years are finally available on the country’s largest DTH operator. Most of these channels, including Nazara TV, were not available on more than one DTH — or two in the case of Vijay Super HD, which Airtel Digital TV added recently, or Star’s new Marathi movie channel Pravah Picture HD, which Sun Direct added soon after its launch in May 2022. In fact, Zee Picchar HD, the first — and, so far, only — Kannada HD movie channel, has been added by a DTH for the very first time since it was launched in September 2021 along with its Tamil counterpart Zee Thirai HD. Several more HD channels are expected to be added in the coming weeks from other broadcasters.
For two channels, in particular, this addition by Tata Play is especially significant, since their lack of visibility severely affected their visibility and popularity. Disney Star’s Odia GEC Star Kiran, its first foray outside the ‘Big Six’ regional languages (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam in the South, plus Bengali and Marathi), was launched in June 2022 in both SD and HD feeds, with Star Kiran HD being the first-ever satellite HD channel in not only Odia but any regional language outside the ‘Big Six’. However, it has been an utter failure in the ratings chart — not even being able to cross Sidharth TV, let alone come close to the leaders, Tarang TV and Zee Sarthak — largely because of the lack of proper distribution and social media promotions, as well as relying more on dubbed serials from Star Plus than Odia original serials. As such, Star Kiran’s struggle has been a rare aberration from the country’s biggest network, and the HD feed’s addition by Tata Play will be crucial to ensuring its survival in the long run.
Meanwhile, Zee’s premium Hindi movie channel &xplor HD was launched in July 2019 and was added almost immediately by Airtel Digital TV on LCN 235, but for the next four years, no other DTH operator added it: the only other platforms to add it were some cable networks like GTPL, and Zee’s own Zee5 app as a live-stream for paid subscribers. As a result, viewers completely missed out on some of the best Hindi movies released in the 21st century, and the channel was barely heard of at all, with little to no advertisements. Therefore its addition by Tata Play will provide a massive boost to its recognition, if not popularity and more people will know that such an excellent Bollywood channel exists.
Moreover, this is a much-needed shot in the arm for two new HD channels from Disney Star that were among the several launched in March: Asianet Movies HD, the first-ever Malayalam HD movie channel, and Vijay Super HD, the third Tamil HD movie channel after KTV HD from the Sun network and Zee Thirai HD, which has also been added by Tata Play. At the time of their launch, no major TV platform had added these two channels, unlike most others — like Star Gold 2 HD — which were added soon enough. Therefore South Indian viewers will now be able to enjoy two new Tamil HD movie channels, as well as the first-ever Kannada and Malayalam HD movie channels, with Tata Play being the first to add Zee Picchar HD. Similarly, Pravah Picture HD is the second Marathi HD movie channel after Zee Talkies HD, though, unlike the other HD movie channels here, it also shows old Star Pravah serials.
This represents one of the biggest HD channel additions by any DTH in recent years, surpassing even the seven HD channels from Disney Star that Dish TV and d2h had added back in August since those were spread over four days. However, several of Disney Star’s new HD channels that were launched in March 2023, like Star Gold 2 HD, Star Sports 1 Tamil/Telugu HD and Disney Channel HD, were added by Tata Play within a few days. Even though Dish TV/d2h had therefore become the first DTH to add Asianet Movies HD, Vijay Super HD and Star Kiran HD, it is lagging in terms of many other HD channels, and therefore it was imperative that Tata Play add them in order to ensure proper distribution and reach.
Which HD channels are still missing from Tata Play?
After this mega-addition, Tata Play has increased its lead over the rest as the DTH with the maximum number of HD channels, with almost 100 HD channels, but there are still a handful that are left to be added. The following satellite HD channels are still pending additions on Tata Play, but many of them are expected to be added in the coming weeks, with details to be revealed in due course. This comes from our comprehensive comparison of HD channels across all Indian pay DTH platforms.
Those HD channels which are from Doordarshan, including the recent launch of DD Sports HD, are typically available only on DD Free Dish (which has no HD channels from private broadcasters) — in addition to Dish TV NSS6/SES8 for non-South Indian subscribers since their satellites are close enough to facilitate the sharing of channels. However, Tata Play does carry DD News HD exclusively on LCN 501, and not even DD Free Dish has it.
|Channel||Broadcaster||Language||Genre||Availability on other DTHs|
|DD National HD||Doordarshan||Hindi||GEC||DD Free Dish + Dish TV NSS6/SES8 (698)|
|DD India HD||Doordarshan||English||News||DD Free Dish + Dish TV NSS6/SES8 (4035)|
|DD Sports HD||Doordarshan||English/Hindi||Sports||DD Free Dish + Dish TV NSS6/SES8 (4011)|
|Sony Sports Ten 4 HD||Culver Max Entertainment||Tamil/Telugu||Sports||Sun Direct (990)|
|Investigation Discovery HD||Warner Bros. Discovery||Hindi||Infotainment||Airtel Digital TV (136), Sun Direct (879); categorised as a Hindi GEC instead of an infotainment channel|
|ETV Bal Bharat HD||ETV||12 languages||Kids||N/A|
|ETV Plus HD||ETV||Telugu||GEC (Comedy)||N/A|
|ETV Cinema HD||ETV||Telugu||Movies||N/A|
|Gemini Music HD||Sun||Telugu||Music||Airtel Digital TV (931), Sun Direct (838)|
|Tarang HD||Ortel Communications||Odia||GEC||N/A (only on Ortel Cable in Odisha)|
As and when the other HD channels get added, they will only serve to reinforce Tata Play’s status as the foremost DTH operator in the country, in terms of SD and HD channels across various languages and genres, in addition to being an early gift for the upcoming Diwali festival — especially with the GSAT-24 migration providing for even more channels and services at a higher quality than ever before.