MUMBAI: As the number of Indian TV channels grows, so too has the need for them to present a distinct character, a leading industry figure has argued.

Kevin Vaz, head of English business at Star India, told Campaign India: "Whether entertainment or movies, as long as you have a clear positioning, it will work."

He was speaking as Star India was preparing to launch Star World Premier, an HD channel that will show popular US shows at the same time as they are first broadcast in America.

He said the new channel would address a highly premium audience, which he defined as "the top 1% of the population of this country belonging to the age group of 25 to 34 years".

These "global Indians", who frequently travelled abroad, did not want to have to wait a year to see shows, preferring instead to download them from sites such as Torrent and then watch it, usually alone, on a tablet. Vaz suggested that Star's HD quality would attract them to television instead.

The subscription-only channel would also be supported by a limited amount of advertising – "the same that we run on our other HD channels", said Vaz.

More generally, Vaz observed that the English entertainment genre was experiencing good growth in the wake of digitisation. Where viewership had previously been restricted to the leading metros, it was now spreading to lower tier cities with a one million plus population, like Pune and Ahmedabad.

The growth of digitisation has had other effects, as soap operas created for women to run in the afternoon have been jettisoned in favour of re-runs of prime-time shows.

Prashant Bhatt, head of weekday programming at Colors, explained to that the growth of channels meant that "viewers have an option to watch eight programs during prime time but end up watching only one. So channels telecast re-runs of their prime time shows in the afternoon, so viewers can catch up on them".

On his own channel, for example, Balika Vadhu is repeated five times in a day and accounts for 25% of the channel's viewership.

Star India vice president of marketing Nikhil Madhok said the afternoon slot had potential, "but it's about priority". He believed there was more scope for improvement in capturing viewers in the prime time slot.

Data sourced from Campaign India,; additional content by Warc staff