By Marc Shoffman | Thursday, January 10th 2019
Fancy bringing a bit of Bollywood into your front room? You can now access a range of Asian channels to spice up your TV viewing.
Only three providers offer Asian TV channels in the UK: Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk. Sky TV offers the broadest range of Indian TV channels, and best of all, they are free and automatically included in Sky's base pack, Sky Entertainment.
Virgin and TalkTalk offer a more limited range of channels and you will need to pay extra on top of your existing package before you can watch them. Here are the best packages to have you singing and dancing around the living room.
Sky TV has the broadest range of Asian channels, and since August 2017 these come free in its television packages. Sky offers more than 45 channels. That means you can sing along to Bollywood songs on B4U Music, watch tear-jerking dramas on Rishtey TV, and follow the feuds and love triangles in the soaps on its range of Star channels.
You can catch comedy, drama or reality shows such as Dance India Dance on family channel Zee TV channel comedy or drama shows on family channel Zee TV or the best of Bollywood from Zee Cinema, which also features WWE matches in Hindi. There is also a Zee channel for the Punjabi-speaking community.
You will also find Hindi language crime and horror shows on &TV and top Hindi reality shows and soaps on Sony Entertainment Television. You can catch up with news and events in India and from the country’s perspective on the News 18 India channel.
There is more to entertainment in Asia than just Bollywood. An Asian TV package wouldn’t be complete without sports. Twenty20 cricket fans can watch the much-loved Indian Premier League on Sky Sports. You need to pay extra to access these channels on a Sky Entertainment package or you could use a NOW TV Pass for temporary use over a weekend or on a monthly basis.
Virgin Media customers don’t get automatic free access to Asian channels. If you want to watch channels such as Zee TV or Star, you will need to add the channels on to your existing package. New customers will need to take the Player Bundle as a bare minimum, to which you can bolt on the Asian Mela pack that comes with 11 channels including Star Gold, Zee TV and Star Life OK for just over a tenner a month.
Alternatively you can choose to add individual channels. Customers can get movies and dramas on Zee TV for around a fiver a month, or the Zee bundle for a few pounds more which also gives you its cinema and Punjabi channel.
There is also a Sony Entertainment channel bundle for around a fiver a month that features international cricket and Bollywood movies. Customers can also get ABP News and Star Plus on the Star Bundle for less than a tenner a month. All these channels can be added when setting up a Virgin Media TV package or, if you are an existing customer, within your online account.
As with Virgin, TalkTalk TV customers wanting Asian channels will also need to buy them as an extra on top of their existing TV package. You can get an Asian TV pack for under a tenner a month to bolt on to your current TalkTalk TV package. This features Bollywood blockbusters and TV from just four channels: Zee TV, Sony TV Asia, SET Max and Zee Cinema.
The Asian pack can be added either when buying a package or within the TalkTalk TV menu in the My Boosts section. The channels can be removed at the end of the month if you no longer want them.
If you want to watch Asian television then you need to ensure you are getting the best channels. These are the main channels and some of the top shows you don’t want to miss.
Zee TV was the first Hindi-language cable channel in India. It has been around since 1992. It is pitched as a family and entertainment orientated channel and has broadcast shows such as India’s Best Cinestars, which gave aspiring actors the chance to win the lead role in a film. It also has flagship shows such as crime drama Detective Didi and paranormal horror series Fear Files.
Zee also broadcasts the popular Indian soap, Kundali Bhagya, which follows the story of two sisters Pragya and Preet and their attempts to reunite with their mother. It also has its own movie channel called Zee Cinema, showing the best Hindi movies.
You don’t just have to rely on Zee TV for entertainment now that other global companies have cottoned on to the popularity of entertainment in the region. Zee also owns &TV, which broadcasts a range of soaps and dramas.
There is also Sony Entertainment Television (SET), which airs popular shows such as detective drama CID. It also features the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, called Kaun Banega Crorepati, which the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire was supposedly based on. You will even get to watch popular stand-up comedy programme The Kapil Sharma Show. SET also has a range of sister channels offering sport and cinema and music.
Rupert Murdoch’s media company 21st Century Fox also has a presence with Star TV. It offers a range of channels such as entertainment on Star Plus, which features primetime soaps and India’s take of Britain’s Got Talent with India’s Next Superstars.
Star TV also features India’s longest-running soap, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, which has been going since 2009 – quite an achievement given that Indian serials are regularly canned. The show charts the lives of young married couple Akshara and Naitik Singhania as they manage their children and extended families.
You can also get films on Star Gold and football, cricket and other sports on Star Sports.
Fans of more classic soaps and dramas from India can also watch Rishtey, which broadcasts reruns of older content and dramas that in some cases are no longer being made or broadcast.
As well as drama, soaps and reality TV, you can also dance along to the latest tunes or find out celebrity gossip on B4U Music. This channel shows the latest Bhangra, Bollywood and Indipop music videos as well as the top charts and features celebrity interviews.