The Middle East broadcaster MBC Group says it will bring a “fresh approach” to Bollywood with the launch of its 14th channel, which goes on air tonight.
MBC Bollywood will broadcast Asian films dubbed in Arabic, and broadcast across the Middle East and North Africa, the company said.
“We believe that there is an appetite among the Arab audience for this genre of content,” said Mazen Hayek, MBC Group's Official Spokesman and Group Director of PR & Commercial. Al Arabiya News is also part of MBC Group.
The new channel will feature Bollywood and Asian movies and series dubbed in Arabic, although some shows will be subtitled.
MBC described the channel as offering “Bollywood 2.0”, with a “young, fresh and glamorous” tone. It will feature themed programming such as ‘Premier Movie Night’ and ‘Bollywood Action Nights’, MBC said.
MBC Bollywood joins an increasingly crowded market for Asian-themed channels geared towards Arab audiences.
Zee Entertainment, which is considered the regional leader in the genre, broadcasts Zee Aflam, which broadcasts dubbed Bollywood movies. The Indian media company said last year it had invested $100 million on launching a new Arabic-language TV station called Zee Alwan, with plans for more channels serving the Middle East.
Other Middle Eastern channels include B4U Middle East, UTV Movies and Imagine Movies.
The additional of MBC Bollywood prompted industry magazine Campaign Middle East to question whether the market was in danger of become "over-saturated."
Hayek said that there was room in the Arab TV market for an additional channel focusing on Bollywood.
“It’s not saturated, and there is a place for a new, strong player in the genre,” Hayek said. “The customer loyalty that MBC Group’s bouquet of channels enjoys makes us even more optimistic for MBC Bollywood to gain market share quickly.”
It is however “too early” to offer audience targets for the new channel, Hayek said.