While many English language channels have had alternate audio feeds for some markets, Discovery channel has become the first to offer feeds in all South Indian languages, including Malayalam and Kannada.
Most multi-language channels come with audio feeds in four or five options – English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali.
Languages whose speakers typically tend to understand Hindi, such as Punjabi, Gujarati and Marathi, tend to be lowest on the priority list as far as providing multi-language feeds are concerned.
Similarly, the two smaller language markets of South India — Malayalam and Kannada — have been largely ignored by national channels so far.
However, the trend is beginning to change, starting with the most popular infotainment channel in India, Discovery.
The channel has added three more audio feeds to its flagship channel — Kannada, Bengali and Malayalam — taking the total number of language feeds to eight.
The move comes in the context of Discovery emerging as the most popular infotainment offering across India due to the aggressive pricing adopted by the group.
While other broadcasters have priced their premium channels in the range of Rs 10-22 each, Discovery offers all its channels — including four HD offerings — at just Rs 10 per month.
Native audio feeds tend to provide a big boost to the popularity of a channel in the relevant language market.
Even English news channels such as WION, from the Zee Group, offers a Hindi feed even as the anchor speaks in English.
Another segment that has seen a proliferation of multi-language options is sports, with Star Sports — the most popular channel in this category — coming in various flavors such as Tamil, Kannada and Bengali.
Similarly, many kids channels also offer feeds to 4 or 5 different languages, with Sony YAY supporting the highest number of such languages.
While DTH users can switch to their desired language by changing the preferences in their remote controllers, cable TV networks often do it at the back-end.