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Sun TV Network launches Sun Neo, forays into Hindi GEC space

Sun TV Network, South India’s largest broadcaster, marked its entry into the Hindi GEC (general entertainment) sector with the launch of its free-to-air (FTA) offering Sun Neo in both SD and HD feeds. The launch had been put on hold for several years after the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was only recently — with the launch of Sun Bangla HD and Sun Marathi HD — that rumours of Sun Neo’s launch resurfaced. Like Sun Bangla and Sun Marathi, and unlike the broadcaster’s South Indian channels which are all pay channels, Sun Neo is an FTA channel with an added presence on DD Free Dish.

With a launch lineup of four serials that are dubbed adaptations of existing shows of the Sun network’s other channels, plus the fact that the SD feed has been added on DD Free Dish, the new channel is clearly looking to tap into DDFD’s unmatched rural viewer base in the Hindi heartland states. At least for the first few days, Sun Neo has also been writing its name in the Devanagari script, positioned just below the main logo in the bottom right corner of the screen — the corner that all Sun channels have always used.

Among DTH platforms, Sun Neo has thus far been officially added only on Sun Direct — SD: LCN 300, HD: LCN 875, changed from 870 — and DD Free Dish, but in practice, Dish TV users tuned to the NSS6/SES8 satellites for non-South Indian viewers also receive the channel from DDFD due to the closeness in their satellites. However, it is expected that more DTH operators will add the channel in the coming days, as it slowly but steadily expands its presence and visibility by way of word-of-mouth and promotional campaigns from the Sun network.

With the launch of Sun Neo — which had been rumoured since 2021 but put on the back burner for a long time since then — the Sun network has finally marked its entry into the cut-throat FTA Hindi GEC sector, which is singlehandedly dominated by Dangal from the Enterr10 Network, which has consistently been one of India’s top 5 most-watched channels as per the BARC weekly ratings. Other FTA networks like Shemaroo (Shemaroo TV and Shemaroo Umang) and IN10 Media (Ishara and Nazara) have not been as successful as Dangal in leveraging the millions of DD Free Dish viewers in the north and west of the country.

This is in stark contrast to the Hindi pay GEC market, where Star Plus rules the roost, followed by Sony Sab and Colors, with Zee TV and Sony TV a long way behind — though Sony TV is far more reliant on non-fiction reality shows than any other Indian GEC. In fact, the Sun network has never been particularly well-known for anything other than its serials — especially for its flagship channel, Sun TV in Tamil, which has firmly fixed it as one of India’s top 3 channels overall — and the same extends to Sun Bangla and Sun Marathi with their 100% serials formula. Naturally, Sun Neo is expected to stick to only serials as well.

Sun has had comparatively decent success with Sun Bangla and Sun Marathi so far — even if a far cry from the record-breaking achievements that Star Pravah has made in the Marathi GEC sector — and what was historically perceived as a South Indian broadcaster has steadily made inroads in West Bengal and Maharashtra with these two channels, which now have the added advantage of an HD feed. With proper distribution on TV platforms and publicity across social media platforms — as well as potentially launching its own original shows in due course instead of only dubs — the visibility of Sun Neo has the potential to increase, a milestone in the path of establishing itself as a key player in the FTA GEC space. DreamDTH

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