India Insight

Star gets fast and furious with U.S. shows on Indian TV

Star India wants to attract English-speaking audiences with a television channel that syndicates the latest seasons of American TV shows such as the counterterrorism thriller Homeland and the comedy Modern Family.

Several channels broadcast U.S. shows in India, but Star World Premiere HD is the first to broadcast episodes a day or two after they air in the United States.

Broadcast delays mean that sitcoms or dramas often complete their run in the United States before premiering in India. Fans, unwilling to wait for months, frequently download episodes from the Web.

“I am targeting the top 1 percent — the people who travel abroad, or have lived abroad, are exposed to these shows, and will be willing to pay for premium content,” said Kevin Vaz, who heads English-language channels in India for the television network owned by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

The line-up on Star World Premiere HD, which launched this week, includes new American shows such as the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Michael J. Fox Show.

The sad state of Indian soap operas

Prime-time television in India is not really known for sensible content. Especially the soap operas. I have never been a fan but one tedious evening, I switched on the telly and sat through one “saas-bahu” serial after another.

What was it about family dramas that kept millions of Indian women glued to their TV sets each evening? I intended to find out.

In one such episode, a mother-in-law laments the loss of an unborn grandchild.

indiatv.jpg“We have lost our grandson and our daughter-in-law cannot bear a child after this. Now we will never have a grandson to take the family name forward.”