Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) has unexpectedly closed its Indian channel Imagine, a reflection of the ultra-competitive general entertainment market in the country.
TBS has confirmed the closure of the Hindi-language channel, which has struggled to find a foothold in the market against competition for market leader Star Plus, Zee TV and Viacom-backed Colors. Imagine’s international feed Imagine Dil Se also closes as a result.
Local media reports said TBS ceased all operations on the two channels yesterday and re-runs are filling the airtime from today before the channels go off air. It is thought 150 jobs may be affected by the move.
“Imagine TV has not performed and grown as per expectations. While some programmes delivered satisfactory ratings, overall the channel was unable to achieve the ratings consistency needed to sustain the business and support continued investment. As a result, Turner made the carefully considered decision to cease operations of the channel,” said Siddharth Jain, Turner International’s MD for South Asia.
Imagine first launched as a joint venture from NDTV and NBCUniversal (NBCU). TBS bought out NDTV in 2009 for US$126.5m after NBCU had stopped investing in the company. Imagine’s CEO Sameer Nair quit last year.
TBS’s other attempt in the general entertainment channels market, Miditech joint-venture channel Real, also ended in failure, with TBS offloading its stake in July 2010.
However, the Time Warner-owned company still operates successful Indian networks such as children’s channel Pogo, Cartoon Network, HBO, CNN and Turner Classic Movies.
In an interview with local news outlet Best Media Info, Jain denied the Imagine acquisition had been a mistake, claiming it was “wholly appropriate.”
TBS remained “fully committed” to the general entertainment space and would continue to “explore opportunities in this key market,” he added.