Television is riding the wave of transformation in India, with the government recently announcing the complete digitisation of all TV services by 2014. Already, there is an impressive increase in digital TV penetration. Of the 37 million digital homes, 28 million are on DTH platforms and new digital mediums, including digital cable and Internet protocol television (IPTV) are emerging. At the current growth rate, we are looking at a probable mark of 48 million digital homes by 2015.
After China and the United States, India has the third largest television viewership in the world. The increasing popularity of digital TV will possibly escalate TV’s dominance in the media and entertainment landscape as the preferred medium over print and films. Analysing the trajectory of digital TV, an interesting angle is the manner in which its growth has impacted viewership in India. For starters, we are looking at better quality viewing.
Digital television has ensured a more empowered viewer in India. With Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs), consumers can now choose what they want to watch.
Not only this, DTH is interactive. Besides allowing the consumer to choose only those channels that they wish to watch, the “pay-per-view” allows the consumer to test out channels before they subscribe to them.
Interestingly, the number of digital regional entertainment channels is four times the number of national ones, with Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Marathi and Gujarati as the prominent languages. This is because DTH is the best way to access rural audiences as compared to analog cable due to the reach of satellite. There was a growth of 64 per cent in the digital segment in rural India in 2010 (India Entertainment and Media Outlook 2011, PWC report) because of which national broadcasters are increasing their presence in regional markets.
The newest addition to digital TV to impact viewership is IPTV, where the audience can view live TV, pause and record it, as well as view shows that played up to a week back, if they missed the original airing. The arrival of digital television has surely revolutionised the way an Indian viewer watches television.
(Debarpita Banerjee is VP - Marketing, NGC Network India & FOX International Channels.)