Think the current number of channels beaming on TV sets is more than enough? Nearly 150 more channels are waiting in the wings, whose applications are in different stages of processing at the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Of these, the Ministry has already given licences to 33 new news channels.
With the increase in the number of new channels, fragmentation of audience is also taking place. Digitisation is on the priority of the I&B Ministry’s agenda, while new technologies like video-on-demand, digital video recorder, and Internet viewing are changing the traditional methods of television viewing.
Speaking at the recently-held NewsNext 2008 conference, Sushma Singh, Secretary, Information and Broadcasting Ministry, had elaborated on the growth of the Indian broadcast industry. She had said, “The I&B Ministry has given permissions to close to 400 channels and 150 applications are in different stages of processing at present. Technology is changing the way television is viewed, and that is a challenge to the Ministry. The TV industry alone has registered a growth of 18 per cent.”
Commenting on the growth potential of the TV industry year-on-year, Rajat Sharma, Chairman & CEO, India TV, said, “Doubting Thomases didn’t come in yesterday. When we started India TV, the same questions were asked about the growth potential. India TV’s march to the numero uno position has clearly borne out that Creativity and Credibility are the twin pillars of our industry. Connectivity and Convergence are the other two. Once we ascertained these four Cs, we realised that sky is the limit.”
Commenting on whether the growth of channels were skewed towards any particular language, like English, Hindi or some regional language, Sharma added, “Every viewer out there is hungry for creativity, credibility, connectivity, and convergence. So, there definitely is space for all. There has been a massive change in viewership pattern over the years. The audience today is more discerning and more demanding. And they have all the right to be so.”
Sharma said, “Scope of news has widened. Now Cricket, Crime, Cinema are part of the mainstream news. Similarly the area of GEC now has more emphasis on reality shows.
India is a large country and there is tremendous scope for niche channels. But Government should also be mindful that while it has the sovereign right to grant new licenses, it can’t ignore the need for a stiffer entry criteria and far more stringent security clearances regarding proclaimed offenders and non-media entities.”
Commenting on the contributing to the growth of this genre, G Krishnan, Executive Director & CEO, Aaj Tak, said, “There is hardly any entry barrier in this space. Due to technology costs reducing rapidly over the last few years and more funding options available, a number of players want to enter the television space.”
Further divulging on the growth potential, Krishnan said, “Ideally, the new channels should increase the size of the overall pie. The advertising revenue can possibly grow at 20percent per annum. There is tremendous potential in subscription revenue if digitization can happen at a rapid pace.”
Krishnan talking on if the growth of channels skewed towards any particular language said, “I feel there is already a saturation in the national space and expect regional channels across genres to fuel the next level of growth.”
Explaining the viewership pattern, Krishnan said, “I think the most significant change is the emergence of new time bands. The morning time band has become very important in the news space. Similarly the afternoon band and the late night band have also shown tremendous increase in viewership. The other interesting point is that different markets have different viewership patterns. Delhi seems to prefer content that is more sensational in nature while Mumbai is in sync with the national viewership pattern.”
“The definition of news has changed and viewers have shown a clear preference towards cricket and cinema compared to politics. Thus, due to the intense competition in the news space, channels will continue to experiment with content to try and expand viewership,” added Krishnan.
Taking a view of the media planner on how advertisers and media planners feel about the return from news ands current affair channels, Tarun Nigam, Executive Director India, North and Pakistan, Starcom, said, “The way things are going there is an increase in the jonor like in magazines there are various sections available same way News channels today are exploding and are becoming a staple diet. Sensationalizing and specialization has increased the explosion and options its great time for advertisers and media planners to invest.”