Disney Star’s Tamil music channel Vijay Music will be renamed to Vijay Takkar from Sunday, 9 October 2022, as per a notification on the broadcaster’s website that has been published. This announcement comes a few weeks after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting approved the name change of Vijay Music to Vijay Takkar. All the other launches and shutdowns proposed by the broadcaster in 2021 remain indefinitely postponed, including the launch of two new Tamil HD channels: Vijay Super HD (movies) and Star Sports 1 Tamil HD. The broadcaster’s other Tamil channel is the flagship entertainment channel Star Vijay.
The change comes as Star has struggled to populate the programming schedule on Vijay Music. While it was launched on 4 October 2020 as a pure music channel, within a few months Star started to air movies and old Star Vijay serials on the channel, effectively turning it into a secondary entertainment channel. This was also originally the case for Vijay Super when it was launched in 2016, but it was converted into a full-time movie channel in 2019. The renaming to Vijay Takkar is intended to reposition the channel in order to show that it has a versatile programming schedule, consisting of serials, movies, music and possibly the occasional sports event as well. These also include music reality shows including Super Singer and Start Music that are aired on Star Vijay.
News of Vijay Takkar had first emerged in April 2022 when a trademark containing the Vijay Takkar logo was filed with the Government of India’s Intellectual Property Office, raising questions over what its genre might be. This was confirmed in July when the channel’s MIB licence was renamed from Vijay Music to Vijay Takkar. Originally its status was shown as ‘Formalities Chk Pass’, though now it shows ‘Objected’, but this should not create any problem or affect the launch of the channel as scheduled.
Astonishingly enough, a trademark and logo had even been filed for Vijay Music HD — something that had very little chance of actually coming to fruition, given how regional channels in smaller genres have struggled to maintain HD feeds. This is evident from the shutdown of ETV Life HD and ETV Abhiruchi HD, and the fact that Zee is also considering shutting down the HD feeds of its movie channels Zee Thirai (Tamil) and Zee Picchar (Kannada) only a year after their launch, due to their failure to be added by any major TV platforms.
Among the changes that remain deferred, with no end in sight, are the launches of the regional HD movie channels Vijay Super HD (Tamil) and Asianet Movies HD (Malayalam), and the regional HD sports channels Star Sports 1 Tamil HD and Star Sports 1 Telugu HD. When even those channels are nowhere close to be launched, Vijay Music HD stood practically no chance at all. This is only the fourth change to be done by Disney Star in 2022, after the rebrand of Marvel HQ to Super Hungama in March, and the launch of Pravah Picture in May and Star Kiran in June. Unlike the others, Vijay Takkar was not announced in 2021 and came to light only this year.
Several broadcasters are struggling with music channels, including in Tamil
With Vijay Music ceasing to exist, the only music channels remaining with Disney Star today are the Telugu-language Star Maa Music and the Hindi youth channel Bindass, which was inherited from pre-merger Disney India. In fact, Star has been trying to exit the music genre completely — as seen with the shutdown of Channel V in 2018 — and even wanted to shutter Bindass as well as of December 2021, but this change too has been deferred indefinitely. It is clear that Star Maa Music is intended to be Disney Star’s only music channel for the long term, and Bindass is not expected to last for many years, if only the broadcaster lifts the embargo on its planned changes.
Disney Star is far from the only broadcaster to give up on the music genre. Many others have found it difficult to sustain their music channels in this age of music streaming services, in addition to YouTube being a major music-watching medium. In the past few years, Zee has shut down two music channels: Zee ETC Bollywood (Hindi) in October 2020 and Zee Vajwa (Marathi) in March 2022. Ironically Zee Vajwa was launched to replace Zee ETC Bollywood, but it met the same fate and shut down after only a year on air.
Its only music channel today is the youth-oriented Hindi music channel Zing, which underwent a rebranding in May 2022 with a new logo and graphics package. Zing had been suffering for a long time and the rebrand was a much-needed revitalisation, especially as it did not have the popularity of its main competitor, MTV. (Moreover, Zing moved its logo from the top right to the top left corner of the screen at the same time, bringing it in line with the other Zee-branded channels — despite Zee TV, the flagship Hindi GEC, breaking the norm in January and moving back to the top right, which channels from most other broadcasters use.)
Sony Pictures Networks India, too, has not been able to sustain either of its Hindi music channels. Sony Mix, launched in 2011, ceased broadcasting in 2020 after nine years, whereas Sony Rox HD, launched in January 2017, could not even reach its second birthday as it was abruptly shuttered on New Year’s Eve 2018 along with two other channels. These two are hardly the only Sony channels to be closed, as Sony Marathi HD was cancelled even before it was launched, in addition to many others. Some of these closures, including AXN, Sony Mix and Sony ESPN, could have been due to a rumoured merger with Viacom18 (which has several similar channels) that was later cancelled, but the real reason was never revealed.
Similarly, 9X Media — which has had a long and established presence in the music broadcasting sector for a decade — had to close its English music channel 9XO in May 2020, even though its social media handles remained active for two years thereafter. This left Viacom18’s Vh1 as the only English music channel in India, since even Nat Geo Music had exited India in 2019. Even its four existing channels — 9XM (Hindi popular music), 9X Jalwa (Hindi retro music), 9X Tashan (Punjabi) and 9X Jhakaas (Marathi) — are struggling to remain on DTH platforms, as Tata Play and Airtel Digital TV have removed 9X Jhakaas, and the former also later removed 9X Tashan as well.
More pertinent to Vijay Music, there have been several changes among Tamil music channels, too. Murasu TV from the Kalaignar network was originally launched to show songs from classic (often black-and-white) Tamil movies, but in October 2021 it was repositioned as a movie channel, something that Kalaignar had so far been lacking — especially when other Tamil-language broadcasters like Jaya, Raj and Mega already have dedicated movie channels, not to mention Sun, Star and Zee. (Kalaignar already has the Isai Aruvi channel, though, which airs popular music.) Similarly, Sun Life, an equivalent retro music channel from the Sun network, was repositioned as a secondary GEC in 2018, which was not successful.
Another Tamil music channel, Sahana TV from the Polimer network, was renamed to Jothi TV, a Hindu devotional channel, in 2021. Yet another such channel, Peppers TV, has been converted into a Hindu bhakti channel as well — despite not changing its name, which hardly sounds spiritual. More Tamil music channels have shut down in the past, such as Channel UFX and SS Music, the latter of which was on air for several years since the early 2000s and recently was trying to make a comeback — though SS Music still has an active social media presence.
It is easy to see why Vijay Music was not able to remain an all-music channel for long, given the history of recent shutdowns in this genre, and rebranding it to Vijay Takkar only makes clear the change in strategy that had been evident for all these months.
Who has managed to prevail in the music genre?
Among the big broadcasters, Viacom18 has been the most successful in the music genre, as it has an enviable three music channels where its biggest competitors have hardly any: MTV (Hindi youth/music shows, similar to Zing), MTV Beats (popular Hindi music) and Vh1 (English music). What’s more, all three channels are available in HD, and are in fact the only HD music channels in India — apart from Sun Music HD and Gemini Music HD in the South. Other HD music channels such as MTunes HD, Pepsi MTV Indies HD and the aforementioned Sony Rox HD have all shut down.
Besides Viacom18, some broadcasters with a large presence in the music genre include:
- Sun: Sun Music (Tamil, also in HD), Gemini Music (Telugu, also in HD), Gemini Life (Telugu, old film music), Udaya Music (Kannada), Surya Music (Malayalam)
- 9X Media: 9XM (Hindi popular), 9X Jalwa (Hindi retro), 9X Tashan (Punjabi), 9X Jhakaas (Marathi)
- Media Worldwide: Music India (Hindi), Sangeet Bangla and Bangla Talkies (Bengali), Sangeet Marathi, Sangeet Bhojpuri
- Raj: Raj Musix Tamil, Raj Musix Telugu, Raj Musix Kannada and Raj Musix Malayalam
- SABGroup: Mastiii and Dhamaal (Hindi), Maiboli (Marathi)
- MH One: MH One (Punjabi), MH One Dil Se (Bhojpuri)
Some other important Hindi music channels include Mastiii from Sri Adhikari Brothers (SABGroup), Zoom from the Times Group, E24, Music India from Media Worldwide, B4U Music, Insync and more recently ShowBox Channel from Anand Mahindra-owned IN10 Media. (Of these, Zoom and E24 have a focus on Bollywood gossip and industry news.) ShowBox has been particularly successful in recent times, and it has even become the number one Hindi music channel due to its presence on DD Free Dish, where well-established channels like 9XM, Mastiii and B4U Music are also present. It is surprising to see a new channel like ShowBox profit when most of its competitors are languishing.
All told, the general forecast of the Indian music channel genre is quite bleak, and other than the more well-equipped channels like MTV (Beats), Vh1 and ShowBox, most of them are finding the going tough. It is therefore natural that those who are unable to commit long-term in this challenging and niche segment should cut their losses and make their exit as soon as possible, as seen at Zee and Sony.
In trying to reposition Vijay Music as Vijay Takkar, a more holistic entertainment-cum-movie-cum-music channel, and salvage its reputation, Disney Star is hardly alone. In due course, Bindass is expected to go off air as well — indeed this should have happened in 2021, but it will continue to remain in limbo for many more months — and that will leave Star Maa Music as its ony music channel across all languages, which remains quite successful in the Telugu market. While the closure of underperforming music channels is painful for fans, it is quite necessary for broadcasters to adapt and survive in a segment that has lost many of its viewers to streaming services. Time alone will tell if the other players will also last for much longer.