Posted by Vivek on September 29, 2010 | No Comments

Last week the South Asian audiences in the US had plenty to cheer about.  India’s No. 1 Hindi channel, STAR India PLUS joined VERIZON’s FiOS TV’s extensive channel lineup, which includes nearly 40 other international channels covering more than 20  languages .We got a chance to speak to both Verizon and Star TV representatives.

First up our conversation with Suzette Baez, who helps manage international programming for Verizon FiOS TV.

a) What is Verizon’s motivation to do this deal, as far as South Asian American audiences go?

Verizon brings a variety of diversified programming to its FiOS TV customers so it made sense to offer Star India Plus.   FiOS TV’s extensive channel lineup already includes nearly 40 other international channels covering more than 20 languages — a collection that cable can’t match.

b) Can you talk about the current South Asian programming on Verizon and what can we expect in the future?

Star India Plus is the latest South Asian channel to join the FiOS TV channel lineup.  We already offer three other channels in the Hindi package that Star India Plus joined: Zee TV, TV Asia and SET Asia.  Verizon also offers another South Asian channel in Punjab called Jus Punjabi.

c) From a content acquisition perspective, will there be more programming on community events and also programming specific to the US based South Asians as opposed to taking programming produced in South Asia and imported here in the US ?

We always look for good programming that will appeal to our customers and we’ll continue to seek out new additions for the FiOS TV lineup.

d) Why the specific alignment with Star Plus, given there are many channels in India ?

We offer a number of the most popular South Asian channels already, including Zee TV and SET Asia , for example.  We look to provide our customers with a variety of programming and Star India Plus offers many popular programs, including well-known soap operas and some of India favorite reality programs and game shows.

e) Can you tell me a little about FiOS TV, for the uninitiated?

Verizon’s FiOS TV service offers more than 520 all-digital channels, including up to 140 high-definition channels.  In addition, FiOS offers a growing video-on-demand service with more than 18,000 titles each month, including 3,300 in HD.  FiOS TV also provides next-generation interactive services including an advanced interactive media guide; social TV, news and entertainment widgets; remote DVR management; multi-room DVR, and more.  Further information on FiOS can be found online at and


Then we had a chance to speak with David Wisnia, SVP, Distribution, Sales and Marketing and head of STAR’s North American office.

f) What is Star TV US reaction to this partnership ?

We are very excited by this partnership since Verizon is one of the best out there and it means exciting times for us.

g) What impact will this partnership have on the South Asian American audience?

Taking a step back we have been the number one channel in India for the last ten years, so the content is already strong in itself. That being said we are always looking for opportunities to globalize and bring popular programming to the NRI audience. In that we have done some strategic one off partnerships and are always looking for opportunities and the right fit and will continue to do that.

h) Any plans to develop programming specifically for the South Asian American audience?

Like I said that depends on the opportunity and the programming that we are looking at the time and it should make sense both financially and from a viewer perspective, so absolutely we are happy to explore that and if it makes sense to take it forward.

i)What other partnerships are there in the future?

We have now completed 3 years in the US and during that time have been making some solid partnerships be it with Direct, Dish, AT &T, Comcast and Verizon, with the underlying mandate and aim being to continue to find ways to put our content in front of as large a population base as possible. We are also looking at all mediums, be it Television or Online, or Mobile, so in that respect we believe that this partnership with Verizon, is a step in that direction and hope to make some announcements pretty soon.

j) Any highlights in the upcoming programming?

We have the Indian version of the very popular Master Chef coming out on Oct 16th.

k) So in what other countries is STAR TV a player in, outside of India, Middle East and North America?

We are very strong in UK with over 8 to 9 million subscribers. We also have a presence in Portugal, France and looking to finalize in a few other countries, very shortly.

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