Twenty-three official languages and more than seven hundred dialects place India right at the top of the international linguistic diversity index (LDI). With such diversity in language, our varied affinity towards food, entertainment and lifestyle is only natural.
Evaluating this diversity in terms of televised outreach, we have almost 885 channels licensed to operate as of by April 2016, according to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (discounting the 250+ waitlisted channels).
In the world’s largest democracy, TV audiences have successfully voted with their remote control units. Nearly 60% of the population of India does not speak Hindi, and a huge chunk of this demographic wants to know what’s happening locally, and likes to be entertained in their mother-tongue. As TV penetration and power-availability grows in rural areas, we see a decidedly regional tilt amidst TV-viewing behavior.
This realization has led to most national broadcasters such as Star, Colors, Zee and Viacom18 – to either launch or take over and re-brand existing regional TV channels. While one objective of these national players is to capture and captivate regional audiences, the other objective is to offer their advertisers a better mix of national and regional channels, and to bump ad-revenues by attracting big regional advertisers, who had hitherto remained distant from TV spends.
However, when one looks at the ad-pie in India, only 38% ad revenue from TV goes to regional channels. Today, national channels are able to charge a high premium per viewer, compared to regional channels due to the mass reach and consequent credibility that such networks provide. As the quality of programming, and viewership of regional channels increase, we might see premium pricing becoming a norm among regional networks too.
It looks like regional channels are on their way to capture a higher share of the ad-pie. Between March 2014 and February 2016, the share of regional channels rose from 35.04% to 38.46%. We have national brands like GlaxoSmithKline (which owns product lines such as Horlicks), Amazon and P&G, that have increased their ad-spends on regional media.
Today, regional players have seen their content costs rise, as their audiences are getting used to the production-heavy-content made available via national channels. Big sporting events also cost regional players viewership share, as all major sports properties are owned and telecast by national channels. For example, during this IPL season, regional channels have lost nearly 4.21% share to national channels, out of which 3.19% has gone to Sony Max, Sony Six and Sony ESPN.
It’s easy to spot the top three emerging trends:
- Advertising revenue will grow for regional channels, as they continue to grow their share of viewership and increase their spends on producing original content: As per data acquired through the BARC India TV measurement system, Regional Entertainment Channels (comprising of Regional GECs, Regional Movies and Regional Music Channels) accounted for 99 per cent viewership share over the period of Week 41, 2015 to Week 7, 2016. (Target Group: All 4+, Market: All India, Period: Week 41, 2015 to Week 7, 2016). Similar to Hindi Speaking Markets (HSM), GECs are the leading genre in regional markets as well, with 29.6 per cent viewership share followed by Regional-Movies with 6.6 percent in 2015. Among the regional markets, Tamil channels occupy the biggest share with 25.7 per cent share in viewership and the Telugu market is the second largest with 24.4 per cent viewership share.
- As viewership gets fragmented, further consolidation can be expected- National broadcasters continue to aggressively expand and consolidate their positions in regional markets owing to their growth potential. In 2015, Viacom18 rebranded their regional GECs acquired from ETV in five languages under the Colors umbrella in order to monetize these channels better.
- Channel-genres like News, Sports & Kids are getting more regionalized with increasing viewership. Zee Networks launched ten new news channels in Hindi and regional languages. While Sun TV currently leads the regional kids channel category with one kids channel each in all the four South Indian languages (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam & Kannada), regional broadcasting of sports is also growing at a rapid pace – be it the hugely popular Pro-Kabaddi League, or league-level cricket matches. In fact, sports broadcasting in regional channels is bringing huge viewership to these games.