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General News English pay-TV channels expecting 25-30% drop in revenue due to NTO impact
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MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) new tariff order (NTO) has spelled doom for the English channels. According to a KPMG report, the English pay-TV channels are expecting a drop of 25-30% in their revenues post the NTO.

It further stated that only the channels that are available in distribution platform operator (DPO) packs are likely to find decent pick-up.

The report titled ‘India’s Digital Future: Mass of Niches’ noted that the English language channels on TV have been struggling to gather any momentum over the past couple of years, with most of them forming a part of the long tail of TV channels present in India, and the market for English channels seeing a de-growth in FY19.

“In addition, the introduction of the new regulatory order in the last quarter of FY19 has added to the challenges with the uptake of English pay-TV channels taking a hit and channels expecting a drop of 25-30% in their revenues post the NTO. Only the channels/broadcasters who have been able to place themselves i.e. the English cluster in sufficient number of DPO packs are likely to find decent pick-up,” the report said.

The report also pointed out that the emergence of over the top (OTT) platforms offering English content has been one of the key factors in the dipping popularity of English TV channels. It also stated that English channels don’t lend themselves to family viewing.

“While the English watching audience is relatively smaller in India, the widespread availability of English (entertainment and movie) content on OTT platforms, that offer a personalised, convenient, appointment-free viewing experience, has been one of the key factors for a shift in consumption from TV to digital for English content. Further, the nature of select English (entertainment and movies) content does not lend itself well for family viewing, especially in a market like India,” the report noted.

“This further pushes these consumers to move away from TV based subscription/viewing to consumption on OTT platforms for English content. As a result of the prevailing conditions, in times to come English TV channels will need to be creative in positioning themselves and experiment with different business models in order to sustain and thrive as TV channels.”

Growth of regional channels

The report stated that the regional language viewership on TV continued to see strong growth in 2018 supported by new channel launches and live sports streaming in local languages, with the regional advertising market growing faster than the market at more than 16 in FY1918.

The KPMG report also said that the general entertainment channels continued to remain the most preferred choice for regional viewers. While 43% of the total GEC viewership in 2018 came from Hindi, the four south language markets together matched up to Hindi in terms of sheer size with the average consumption per day for these languages at nearly 2.5 hours a day, much higher than that of Hindi which was about 1.7 hours a day.

“While viewership in the southern market grew at a steady 7%, regional viewership growth in 2018 was driven by Bhojpuri (38%), Odia (36%), Assamese (31%) and Marathi (26%),” it added.

Regional viewership, the report added, benefitted significantly from sports consumption in local languages with nearly 366 million people viewing sports content in regional languages in 2018. IPL 11, which was broadcast on 17 channels with live feed in eight languages (English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bangla, Marathi and Malayalam), managed to get a significant 23% of its total viewership in regional languages.

In addition to the availability of sports programming in multiple regional language feeds for the first time, the industry also witnessed multiple regional channel launches during the year, it added.

The report also noted that broadcasters continue to believe strongly in the regional growth story and have announced plans to launch new entertainment, movie and sports channels for the regional markets over the course of FY20. As the south markets mature, this growth is expected to come from the relatively under-indexed languages like Marathi, Bangla, Odia and Gujarati.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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