FTA Channels Likely to Get More Viewership Than Paid Regional Channels Under New Trai Mandate

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Over the last few years in India, regional content viewership has seen a massive rise with consumers attracted to their televisions. Broadcasters are also upping the ante with every passing day to air the content which will attract the users and glue them to their TVs. There are some popular channels across all the regional channels, but it's said that the new tariff regime introduced by Trai will deliver a blow to the paid regional channels compared to those of FTA channels. If you look at the pricing of individual regional channels, they cost up to Rs 22 per month which is very high compared to what consumers to get in the past. As per various experts, the new tariff regime will likely affect the viewership of paid regional channels compared to the FTA channels as they come at Rs 153 per month.

The Growth of Regional Channels and Increase in Content Quality

BARC India has also published data about the growth of these regional channels. According to this data, Bhojpuri saw a 134% increase, followed by 125% for Assamese, 89% for Oriya, 81% for Gujarati, 68% for Marathi, 55% for Bengali, 52% for Kannada, 34% for Punjabi, 23% for Hindi, 18% for Telugu and 17% for Tamil in the past two years. It is worth noting that along with the viewership of these channels, the advertising revenue has also gone up for them. Not only the general entertainment channels in these regional languages, but also movies and other channels have grown in the last two years, but with the new tariff regime, it is entirely possible that the situation of the paid regional channels might be threatened.

Dishum Broadcasting COO Partha Dey said to Indian Television that if the carriage deals are in place with distribution platform operators (DPOs), viewership of regional FTA channels will not be affected. He further said, “However, this may not hold true for long tail regional pay channels. Nevertheless, we may notice slight turbulence till the time Trai guidelines are fully implemented.”

On the same note, Stratagem Media founder, Sundeep Nagpal voiced the concerns saying that the new tariff regime might impact the penetration of regional channels like music, movies and secondary GECs. According to HBC Founder Harish Bijoor, with the new tariff regime, consumers will contemplate the value of these channels, and if there are two regionally similar channels, then they will likely pick one.

Consumers Likely to Prioritise FTA Channels over Pay Channels

As per a FICCI-EY Report in 2018, the television industry in India has grown from Rs 58,800 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 66, 0007 crores in 2017-18 thus denoting a growth of 12.24%. The count of SD pay channels also went up from 147 in 2010 to 213 in 2018.

Talking about the penetration in rural areas, the industry experts said that with the allowance of 100 FTA channels in the base pack, the subscribers would first choose all their free channels and then they will add select pay channels. In such a situation, subscribers are likely to let go of a few regional pay channels as the FTA selection will be enough for them. The regional channels will suffer most in rural penetration than in urban, said Parth Dey of Dishoom broadcasting.

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Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.

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