Un­fazed by chal­lenges, Tele­vi­sion con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate the me­dia space; ex­pan­sion of FTA chan­nels, launch of re­gional chan­nels of var­i­ous gen­res in Hindi-speak­ing mar­kets set to pro­pel the medium even higher


Un­fazed by chal­lenges, Tele­vi­sion con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate the me­dia space; ex­pan­sion of FTA chan­nels, launch of re­gional chan­nels of var­i­ous gen­res in Hindi-speak­ing mar­kets set to pro­pel the medium even higher

Ter­res­trial tele­vi­sion was in­tro­duced in In­dia, way back in 1959, with an ex­per­i­men­tal tele­cast that used a small trans­mit­ter and a makeshift stu­dio. The big game-changer for Tele­vi­sion in In­dia came in 1982 on the back of three events - the in­tro­duc­tion of na­tional tele­cast and color tele­vi­sion, and the Asian games held in Delhi – which gave the medium the re­quired im­pe­tus. What fol­lowed was land­mark small screen pro­gram­ming on the na­tional broad­caster Do­or­dar­shan. The next sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone was satel­lite broad­cast and what started with Zee TV soon led to a mul­ti­tude of pri­vate chan­nels tak­ing over the In­dian air­waves. Since then, the growth of In­dian Tele­vi­sion has been as­tound­ing. By some es­ti­mates, from just one chan­nel and be­lieve it or not, 41 sets in the coun­try, in 1962, the medium grew to more than 100 chan­nels be­ing viewed in more than 70 mil­lion homes by more than 400 mil­lion peo­ple in 1995. Fast for­ward to to­day, the Tele­vi­sion uni­verse size is 183 mil­lion house­holds (HHs) with a reach of 780 mil­lion in­di­vid­u­als and an All-In­dia pen­e­tra­tion of 64%. This is a 10% jump in pen­e­tra­tion lev­els, from 143 mil­lion house­holds in 2013, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent FICCI Frames 2018|BARC re­port, ‘The Chang­ing Face of TV in In­dia’.

Delv­ing a lit­tle fur­ther into the data on the TV uni­verse re­veals that there are 99 mil­lion HHs in ru­ral In­dia as against 84 mil­lion HHs in ur­ban In­dia. How­ever, only 52% of ru­ral In­dia is pen­e­trated viz-a-viz 87% pen­e­tra­tion in ur­ban In­dia. These num­bers once again high­light the fact that Tele­vi­sion in In­dia, par­tic­u­larly ru­ral In­dia, has still a lot of head­room for growth and in all like­li­hood will con­tinue to be a dom­i­nant me­dia ver­ti­cal. Says Rathi Gan­gappa, CEO, Star­com In­dia, “TV will con­tinue to grow as both elec­tric­ity and con­nec­tiv­ity im­prove. DD di­rect will have the big­gest role to play. As has been hap­pen­ing in the past years, this growth will largely come from ru­ral. In ur­ban In­dia, frag­men­ta­tion will pick up pace with more op­tions be­ing avail­able on TV along with TRAI reg­u­la­tions likely to kick in.”

What also needs to be ad­dressed are the chal­lenges that ex­ist on­ground in ru­ral In­dia that could im­pede growth. For starters, the data points to the stark re­al­ity that growth, de­vel­op­ment and the much touted ‘achhe din’ has not reached the hin­ter­lands. Even though a larger per­cent­age of ru­ral homes have been elec­tri­fied, the af­ford­abil­ity fac­tor means that a Tele­vi­sion set re­mains out of reach for many. In this sce­nario, it could be the hand-phone that could be the medium of choice when it comes to meet­ing a con­sumer’s en­ter­tain­ment needs. It is es­ti­mated that there are close to one bil­lion mo­bile users in the coun­try, of which over

FTA chan­nels al­ready have gained a fair amount of spends and will con­tinue to grow as long as they com­mand view­er­ship. Pric­ing will play its part here in driv­ing growths. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that close to half of TV Ad spend comes from FMCG and they are al­ready mov­ing bud­gets to FTA since the past year. RATHI GAN­GAPPA

CEO, Star­com In­dia

300 mil­lion are smart­phone users. This num­ber is ex­pected to more than dou­ble by 2020 and fall­ing data prices and in­creased in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity could mean that peo­ple could start con­sum­ing TV through the mo­bile.

An­other chal­lenge is the frag­men­ta­tion of me­dia as per Hi­manka Das, CEO, Vizeum who says, “While pen­e­tra­tion is on an up­ward trend, frag­men­ta­tion con­tin­ues which means op­ti­mi­sa­tion of reach of a TV plan be­yond a thresh­old will con­tinue to be chal­leng­ing. Also mea­sure­ment met­ric change has con­trib­uted to bet­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the TV uni­verse.”

The Growth Driver: FTA Chan­nels

The key pro­pel­ler for the growth of Tele­vi­sion in ru­ral ar­eas has been the ex­po­nen­tial in­crease in the num­ber of Free-to-air (FTA) chan­nels. As per the BARC re­port, FTA chan­nels have grown by 74% since 2015, and now have 31% view­er­ship share, up from 23%. On the other hand, in the same time pe­riod, pay chan­nels have grown by 14% and now have a 69% share of view­er­ship, down from 77% two years ear­lier. But will ad­ver­tis­ers and me­dia plan­ners look to al­lo­cate more money to FTA chan­nels? Says Das, “The ba­sics of a TV plan op­ti­mi­sa­tion is to op­ti­mize reach at an ef­fec­tive fre­quency based on the brand and the cat­e­gory. That’s hy­giene, be­fore one pur­sues to be­ing dis­rup­tive to make the TV plan im­pact­ful. As long as me­dia plan­ners are able to de­liver ef­fi­ciency, both in terms of reach and CPT, these shifts in dy­nam­ics re­ally do not play an ac­tive role.” Gan­gappa adds that find­ings from the BARC re­port has

All the FTA chan­nels are see­ing high growth in view­er­ship. If you look at their ad­ver­tis­ing base, these are brands which are deeply pen­e­trated and well dis­trib­uted in the coun­try. These brands have a very low-en­try level cost. The TG for these brands ac­tu­ally pa­tron­ize these chan­nels. To­day, if a brand wants to sell a soap or an en­try level wash­ing pow­der, they will ad­ver­tise on FTA chan­nels. NAVIN KHEMKA

Manag­ing Part­ner, Wave­maker In­dia

al­ready been in­ferred in the last one year through the data used for plan­ning. She says, “It has al­ready led to bud­gets be­ing spread across more chan­nels; not only FTA but even HD. An av­er­age na­tional plan now con­sists of usu­ally 100 chan­nels as op­posed to maybe 60 a cou­ple of years back.”

A big rea­son for this in­crease has been Do­or­dar­shan’s DD Free Dish - a multi-chan­nel Free-To-Air Di­rect to

Home (DTH) ser­vice. With a one-time in­stal­la­tion cost that could vary from as lit­tle as Rs 500 to Rs 3,000, there is no ac­ti­va­tion charge or monthly sub­scrip­tion charge to be paid once DD Free Dish is in­stalled. This is the big rea­son for the in­crease in tele­vi­sion pen­e­tra­tion be­cause for cost con­scious house­holds, FTA chan­nels have be­come the en­try level to tele­vi­sion as they don’t have to pay for a monthly ca­ble con­nec­tion. Even if there is a lo­cal ca­ble oper­a­tor in the fray, the fee is low. Given this, it is no sur­prise that FTA chan­nels have gar­nered huge num­bers as they are tar­get­ing the bot­tom of the pyra­mid.

With huge eye-balls, it is no sur­prise that ad­ver­tis­ers, such as FMCG, are look­ing to tar­get the house­holds that are watch­ing these chan­nels. For broad­cast­ers, this has also given an op­por­tu­nity to aug­ment rev­enues. As per the re­cent Pitch Madi­son Ad­ver­tis­ing Re­port 2018, in 2017, Hindi GEC

+ FTA con­trib­uted to 28% of the over­all TV adex, with rev­enues in the range of Rs 5,500 to 6,000 crore. Of this, FTA chan­nels con­trib­uted about 20% and look­ing ahead, this is set to in­crease fur­ther. How­ever, the ad-rates on FTA chan­nels are sig­nif­i­cantly lesser than GECs as a 10-sec­ond ad spot on an FTA chan­nel is priced around Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 while the cor­re­spond­ing prime­time rates on a Hindi GEC would be in the range of Rs 80,000 to 1 lakh. While most FTAs chan­nels run with re­peat con­tent, Star In­dia made a dis­rup­tive move last year in this space with the launch of a FTA sports chan­nel, Star Sports First and then an FTA Hindi GEC, Star Bharat which broad­casts orig­i­nal and not re­peat con­tent. The Hindi FTA GEC, in par­tic­u­lar, quickly notched up the num­bers and in a short time grabbed the top spot in the com­bined ur­ban and ru­ral mar­ket (U+R) as per BARC data. While one has to wait and see if other play­ers fol­low suit, this could lead to in­creased in­put costs re­sult­ing in higher ad-rates.

How­ever, the pric­ing on FTA chan­nels will de­pend also on their in­put cost. This could likely go up once the un­cer­tainty around the auc­tion­ing process for slots on DD

Free Dish is cleared and the gov­ern­ment re-com­mences the auc­tion of va­cant slots on the plat­form at higher prices, as it is be­ing an­tic­i­pated, thereby in­creas­ing the en­try-level cost. Ac­cord­ing to Navin Khemka, Manag­ing Part­ner, Wave­maker In­dia, “If the en­try level cost goes up and the view­er­ship is what they are, the pric­ing will be ac­cord­ingly de­ter­mined. Till now, FTA chan­nels were op­er­at­ing in a very en­try level space but these chan­nels will now ma­ture with DD re­al­iz­ing its po­ten­tial and look­ing for open pric­ing for it. Ac­cord­ingly, if the FTAs want to make money, they will have to also start in­vest­ing in orig­i­nal con­tent, which some FTAs have al­ready done, rather than only re­peat con­tent. The mo­ment that

hap­pens, the pric­ing is bound to go up, and the mo­ment you do that, the op­er­a­tion cost will go up.”

On his part Neeraj Vyas, EVP & Busi­ness Head – Sony

MAX Movie Clus­ter & SAB TV says, “Ev­ery­body is play­ing the ‘wait and watch’ game right now. One is not very sure about the gov­ern­ment pol­icy on the slot auc­tions on DD Free Dish. A lot of clar­ity is needed there. Once that clar­ity is achieved, I as­sume peo­ple will look at put­ting up orig­i­nal con­tent on FTA chan­nels be­cause it’s a large mar­ket, sub­stan­tially de­cent for peo­ple to in­vest in .... The FTA space is here to grow, pro­vided more con­tent is put up there.”

The Re­gional Game

The BARC re­port also re­it­er­ated the fact that view­ers in South of the coun­try (ie. Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Te­lan­gana, Ker­ala & Kar­nataka) on an av­er­age spend higher time on TV. Peo­ple south of the Vind­hyas on an av­er­age spent 4 hours, 9 min­utes and 25 sec­onds be­fore their TV screens. On the other hand, view­ers in HSM (Hindi speak­ing mar­kets – Rest of the states comes un­der HSM) on an av­er­age spent 3 hours, 31 min­utes and 36 sec­onds be­fore the tube. What must be kept in mind is that all the Hindi gen­res com­bined reaches more than 500 mil­lion peo­ple weekly and caters to the largest pop­u­la­tion base. Ex­perts say that when it comes to HSM, the pop­u­la­tion is pri­mar­ily served by Hindi con­tent and in­vest­ments are made only in Hindi con­tent and not in the re­gional lan­guages in the North, with Ben­gali and Marathi be­ing the ex­cep­tions. When­ever sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ments have been made in the lo­cal re­gional lan­guages, view­er­ship and time-spent has seen an uptick in these mar­kets.

Ex­plain­ing this Rav­ish Ku­mar, Head - Re­gional Clus­ter, Vi­a­com18 says, “The lat­est FICCI-EY re­port cap­tures South In­dia spend­ing four hours watch­ing tele­vi­sion on a daily ba­sis as com­pared to HSM that spends three and a half hours. While the south­ern states have a high ap­petite for con­sum­ing con­tent, the con­tent made therein is tai­lored for au­di­ences specif­i­cally based in that re­gion and is fla­vored with re­gional nu­ances, while Hindi GECs need to cater to a larger au­di­ence base scat­tered across States thus re­duc­ing the re­lata­bil­ity quo­tient for Hindi con­tent. There­fore while Hindi con­tent has a wider view­er­ship base, re­gional con­tent has a more en­gaged though con­cen­trated, base. This high affin­ity for con­tent con­sump­tion also has an in­di­rect ef­fect on the kind of con­tent be­ing pro­duced therein – it is more ex­per­i­men­tal and in­no­va­tive, thus in­creas­ing the sam­pling and stick­i­ness across a wide va­ri­ety of gen­res. At an in­fras­truc­tural level, the cost of pro­duc­ing con­tent is also lower than the Hindi mar­ket, thus en­cour­ag­ing pro­duc­ers to ex­per­i­ment and in­no­vate.”

On his part Khemka says, “There are four dif­fer­ent lan­guages in the South and be­cause the mar­ket is frag­mented, you can me­dia iso­late these mar­kets. The lan­guages are dif­fer­en­ti­ated and a lot of in­vest­ments have been made to de­velop con­tent in these lo­cal lan­guages. It is also a func­tion of the qual­ity of con­tent de­liv­ered. If the re­gional con­tent is good, peo­ple will shift to that lo­cal con­tent, oth­er­wise peo­ple will stay with the na­tional con­tent. In the North this has re­ally not hap­pened and peo­ple here rely on Hindi con­tent. While there are lo­cal chan­nels in the North, the qual­ity of con­tent of­fered is nowhere close to what the Hindi chan­nels of­fer.” Khemka adds that though Bho­jpuri lan­guage con­tent has seen a rise, he sees this re­main­ing a niche as it will not be able to over­take Hindi, which will re­main dom­i­nant in the North and the West.

Look­ing ahead, the big op­por­tu­nity, whether in the FTA space or in the HSM, will be a greater fo­cus on re­gional chan­nels. With Ben­gali and Marathi emerg­ing as a strong re­gional play, the way for­ward could be more re­gional chan­nels across gen­res in the North. Says Vyas, “We still haven’t seen re­gional chan­nels come up in the North. This will be a big driver. An­other un­der­served genre is kids. Kids chan­nels drive a lot of view­er­ship in the ur­ban cen­tres but you don’t re­ally have any ded­i­cated kids chan­nel in the re­gional space. These chan­nels will drive growth as this space is a lit­tle un­der­nour­ished in terms of the ar­ray of chan­nels that are on of­fer.”

As for how the re­gional space will pan out Ku­mar says,

“The re­gional space is heav­ily un­der-in­dexed. It has very strong tail­winds and tremen­dous head­room for growth given the strong ap­petite for lo­cal con­tent by view­ers and the rapidly grow­ing con­tent ecosys­tem. With greater in­vest­ments in qual­ity con­tent and faster growth rates, the re­gional space is out­pac­ing the Hindi GEC.” He adds, “The low cost base, com­bined with the depth of repos­i­tory of art, lit­er­a­ture and cin­ema that the South­ern states have, make for a very po­tent idea in­cu­ba­tor for en­ter­tain­ment con­tent. Re­gional con­tent is al­ready pick­ing up in de­mand on var­i­ous OTT Video-on­de­mand plat­forms. Re­gional movies be­ing dubbed and aired on Hindi movie chan­nels have been a com­mon phenomenon for quite some time now. I liken re­gional chan­nels as “Bahubalis” whose day has come.”

HI­MANKA DAS CEO, Vizeum It’s not about South vs. HSM, South has four dif­fer­ent lan­guages vs. Hindi speak­ing Uni­verse. Each of the lan­guages in the South is able to de­liver strong con­tent. South re­gional lan­guage con­tent con­tin­ues to drive view­ers from...

NEERAJ VYAS EVP & Busi­ness Head – Sony MAX Movie Clus­ter & SAB TV There is def­i­nite po­ten­tial for ru­ral to grow but ru­ral comes with its own sets of chal­lenges. So­cial and lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenges make pen­e­tra­tion into ru­ral a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult than...

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