After Viacom18, Star India too abandons ‘two brand’ strategy, kills ‘OK’

Having withdrawn Star Bharat from India’s largest free DTH service, Star India seems to have decided to junk its erstwhile ‘dual brand’ strategy in favor of consolidating all its channels under the flagship Star branding.

Movies OK, a channel that was launched seven years ago as a cheaper alternative to Star Gold, the group’s flagship Hindi movie channel, has been renamed as Star Gold 2 in government records. Such renamings follow applications by broadcasters requesting the same.

The move indicates that Star no longer feels the need to have a flanking or complementary brand to tap into the cost-conscious market.

Movies OK was launched seven years ago, and was made available on DD Free Dish — India’s largest free TV distribution platform — in 2013.

The channel was seen as the movie channel complement to ‘Life OK’, a general entertainment channel launched by Star in 2011 targeting the mass/rural audience.

Life OK, later renamed Star Bharat, was one of the most watched channels on DD Free Dish.

However, but was pulled from the platform in February after the media regulator objected to the channel being sold as a ‘pay channel’ on most platforms, while being sold as a ‘free channel’ on DD Free Dish.

Both Movies OK and Star Bharat are now priced at Rs 1 per month, compared to Rs 19 for Star Gold and Star Plus. They are expected to appeal to the ‘value’ or ‘price conscious’ customers.

The earlier dual brand strategy by groups like Star and Viacom18 was intended to keep a distance between the mass offerings and the premium offerings.

While Star preferred the ‘OK’ brand, Viacom chose the ‘Rishtey’ brand for its mass entertainment and movie channels.

Zee and Sony, on the other hand, launched their mass offerings with under the parent brand.

The situation has, however, changed this year with the coming into effect of the new tariff regime by TRAI.

The ‘two brand’ theory no longer works as well as it used to because, under the new tariff regime, channels are identified and sold under packages that carry the broadcasters name.

In other words, Movies OK and Star Gold are both sold as part of Star’s offerings, while Rishtey and Colors are both sold as Viacom18 offerings. More often than not, they are found in the same package too, making a certain degree of cannibalization inevitable.

Earlier, these channels were usually sold under different packs designed by cable and DTH operators.

As such, Viacom18 rebranded its Rishtey, priced Rs 1 per month, as Colors Rishtey in February, a month after the new regime came into effect. Colors is Viacom18’s main channel, and is priced at Rs 19 per month (Rs 22.40 including taxes).