As viewers are on the lookout for a better viewing experience and with better quality televisions flooding the market, broadcasters as well as cable service providers have also increased their efforts. High Definition (HD) channels have started to gain prominence recently with many TV networks deciding to launch a HD version of many of their channels. There has also been a drive from Direct-To-Home (DTH) players and also multi-system operators (MSOs) post digitization to push towards viewers subscribing for HD feeds. Today there are in total more than 1 million HD subscribers in India.
Growth of HD subscribers
According to a CII-PwC report on the media and entertainment sector in 2013 India has 129 million TV-owning households and was expected to grow to 144 million households by the end of 2015. Analogue cable TV subscribers have decreased post digitization from 64 million households subscriptions in 2013 to an expected 35 million households in 2015, and digital cable and DTH is expected to grow from 30 million and 35 million households in 2013 to 65 million and 44 million households in 2015, respectively. There has also been an increase in the number of HD subscriptions since digitization and has mainly seen growth among the top 8 metros such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune. These cities currently account for approximately 22 million TV-households and have been digitized according to market experts. Out of which from these households 34% are DTH subscribers, which is around 7.5 million. From among the DTH households around 15% are HD subscribers, while around 5% are HD subscribers from digital TV households. Cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai account for a major portion of HD subscribers and is growing in other cities too.
With HD subscriber base growing, TV broadcasters are viewing it as a big opportunity for growth and are looking to attract advertisers with of providing them with premium paying viewers. Zee Entertainment Enterprise Ltd. (ZEEL) which recently launched their Zee HD League package of 5 HD channels is clearly exploring the avenue.
Ashish Sehgal, Chief Sales Officer, ZEEL says, “There is a clear opportunity for advertisers to sharply target the elusive affluent audience segment. HD subscribers have a high skew towards the premium 25+, SEC AB in 6 metros and are growing at a whopping 50% per annum. By adopting a network approach, we will further strengthen our monetization strategy by offering advertisers a suite of advertising options across multiple genres.”
World Cup an opportunity to grow HD market
However, HD feeds have been more popular especially with sports properties. With the ICC World Cup going on, many have decided to come on board. Star Sports has been broadcasting it over 2 HD channels and have been offering advertisers packages where they can separately advertise on the HD feed. According to media planners and marketers the ad rates for the HD feed is estimated to be in the range of Rs.1-1.5 lakh for a 10 second spot. This is attractive for marketers considering the estimated Rs.5 lakh per 10 second spot for SD channel feeds.
Many brands have looked at this as an attractive option considering the premium target audience they would be reaching for their brands. Among them is PolicyBazaar.com and Philips which have taken spots exclusively on the HD feed for the World Cup.
Speaking about this Naveen Kukreja, CMO, PolicyBazaar.com said, “Consumer insight plus the fact HD in terms of their pricing is reasonably priced compared to SD and offers better value for brands like us who see a large percentage of customers coming from top 10 cities. For really mass market brand (like FMCG companies) HD might not be the right media because they want to reach out to the masses and go beyond the top 10 markets.”
Philips India which is advertising for its trimmers and shavers on the HD feed of the World Cup. Amit Tiwari, Director, Country Head, Media, Philips India said, “For HD feed you need to see how it pans out into your market. It depends on which brand or sub-brand you want to advertise and what is the your periphery in terms of geo-targeting that you want to do through the area that you want to concentrate”. He further said that Star Sports way of packaging HD channels is a smart way of doing it as it is feasible for both the brand and the broadcaster perspective as investment amounts are huge otherwise.
Besides brands DTH companies are also looking to get a slice of the HD pie during this World Cup by trying to market HD packages to customers. As sports is something appreciated in HD, DTH manufacturers expect these subscriptions to increase.
Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV says, “Large televised events like ICC Cricket World Cup have always resulted in a significant spike in new acquisitions. This season we have a significant advantage from our competition by providing maximum HD (39) and Sports channels (12) in the country. The consumer has already taken notice of our enhanced services and the numbers have started ringing in. We are positive that that this season we will expand our new consumer base significantly.”
Tata Sky is looking to push its 4K HD subscriptions up as it is looking leverages the seven World Cup matches which will be broadcast in 4K HD technology.
Harit Nagpal, CEO & MD, Tata Sky said, “Tata Sky has recently announced the launch of the 4K powered set top box (STB), a few weeks ago. The set top box will be available for existing and new subscribers to enjoy the forthcoming Cricket matches in ultra HD 4k picture clarity.”
With the World Cup in high gear followed by IPL and other sporting action we can definitely expect subscribers of HD channels to increase in the coming few months.