Home Entertainment SonyLIV Unveils Robust 2024 Slate, U.S., U.K. Growth Plans, Focus on Family,...

SonyLIV Unveils Robust 2024 Slate, U.S., U.K. Growth Plans, Focus on Family, Youth, Unscripted and Esports Content (EXCLUSIVE)

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Indian streamer SonyLIV has unveiled a slate of more than 20 new and returning shows for 2024 and is expanding its content focus.

2023 saw several hits bow on the service including “Scam 2003,” “Chamak,” Agatha Christie adaptation “Charlie Chopra & The Mystery Of Solang Valley” and “Fauda” remake “Tanaav,” which has been renewed for a second season, besides Season 2 of Emmy-nominated series “Rocket Boys.”

2024 will see shows in the Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi and Marathi languages, in addition to Hindi. “We wanted to go with a very robust multi-language content lineup,” Danish Khan, executive VP and business head, SonyLIV and StudioNext at Sony Pictures Networks India, told Variety.

The Hindi-language lineup includes renowned filmmaker Sooraj Barjatya (“Uunchai”) making his streaming debut with “Badaa Naam Karenge,” a family drama that is due to premiere during the Diwali holiday frame in November. “That’s a big one for us,” Khan says. Sudhir Mishra directs “Summer of 77,” a university-set series dealing with romance and friendship with the Indian political emergency of 1975-77 as a backdrop. Barun Sobti and Anjali Anand star in “Raat Jawan Hai,” a modern and quirky show that deals with contemporary issues, and another family drama “Civil Lines,” from Durgesh Singh, the writer of hit SonyLIV show “Gullak.”

Previously announced Hindi-language shows include Nikkhil Advani’s political drama “Freedom at Midnight,” based on the book by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins; suspense thriller “36 Days”; Ram Madhvani’s Indian freedom movement-based “Waking of a Nation”; “Kan Khajura,” the Indian adaptation of Israel’s “Magpie”; second seasons of “Tanaav” and “Chamak”; and third seasons of “Undekhi” and “Gullak.”

The Telugu-language lineup includes: historical action-drama series “Lords of the Deccan,” in association with Rana Daggubati’s Spirit Media, adapted from the bestseller, “Lords of The Deccan: Southern India from Chalukyas to Cholas” by Anrirudh Kanisetti; and female cop story “Brinda,” starring Trisha Krishnan, which weaves in a strong element of the folklore of Andhra Pradesh. Previously announced shows include: “Kanyasulkam,” a period piece on social issues based on a landmark 1892 play, with Krish Jagarlamudi (“Kanche”) as showrunner; tech-set corporate drama “Bench,” from the showrunner-director duo Manasa Sharma and Mahesh Uppala (“Oka Chinna Family Story”); and political drama “Indraprastham” from showrunner-director Deva Katta.

The company’s Malayalam-language slate features slice-of-life satire “Jai Mahendran” from showrunner Rahul Riji Nair (“Kho Kho”) and thriller “Blindfold” from showrunner-directors Anzarulla (“Vishuddha Arappiyude Onnam Athbhutha Pravarthi”) and Harshad (“Unda”).

The Tamil-language series “The Madras Mystery – Fall of a Superstar” is based on a murder case in 1940s British India with A.L. Vijay (“Boo”) as showrunner. Also in Tamil are socio-economic drama “Journey” from Cheran (“Autograph”) and young and frothy show “Free Love.” There are four Marathi-language shows coming up, including coming-of-age series “Lampan” from showrunner-director Nipun Dharmadhikari (“Me Vasantrao”), with Bengali, Punjabi and Kannada-language shows also in the works.

The content focus is also expanding to include young adult and Indian family stories, Khan said, adding, “You will see esports being a very strong pillar of us reaching out to a younger set of people and we are also creating a tournament, which we believe will be a very big one as far as the esports community is concerned in India.”

Among unscripted shows, “MasterChef India” in the Hindi language was a big success for SonyLIV as was “Shark Tank India.” Tamil and Telugu-language versions of “MasterChef India” are due in 2024, as is season 3 of “Shark Tank India.” More unscripted shows are on the way, including international adaptations and homegrown ones, including quiz show “Quizzer of the Year,” hosted by veteran Indian quizmaster Siddhartha Basu, co-designed and co-created with Anita Kaul Basu.

SonyLIV has some 33 million subscribers, mostly from deploying the B2C or business-to-consumer model. This number is on the rise as the streamer belatedly entered the bundling model with B2B or business-to-business deals in India, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia and the Middle East with partners including OTT Play, Watcho, Times Prime, Airtel, Jio and Vi. “We are expecting some real growth between January and March. The one thing that has added or accelerated our subscription growth is B2B bundling, which was delayed for us,” Khan said.

India is a market led by content consumption on mobile devices, aided by some of the cheapest data rates in the world. “Telcos help us to reach out to a set of people who are very heterogeneously distributed across India and otherwise would have cost us high in terms of cost of acquisition and marketing cost. And it’s a win win for us and the telcos,” Khan said.

The next big push for SonyLIV is in the U.S. and U.K. markets. In the U.S. the service is available via Sling TV. “SonyLIV has not been distributed in the U.S., which is a big market,” Khan said. “We have a deal with Sling TV till about end of March. We are looking forward to having a more stronger presence in the U.S. market from April onwards, where we’ll see a little bit of a stronger marketing effort and launching a more B2C product there.”

“We have been in the process of building what we think will be an impactful show proposition because there are so many shows being launched, how do we break through? So one of the thoughts is that if we can find some really strong shows in different languages, we can really go out in the U.K. and U.S.,” Khan added.