Guest Column: Year in Review: TV Landscape Grows Bigger: Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India

In India, television is synonymous with entertainment. With more than 850 licensed channels, the viewer is certainly spoilt for choice

e4m by Partho Dasgupta
Updated: Jan 12, 2018 8:58 AM

In India, television is synonymous with entertainment. With more than 850 licensed channels, the viewer is certainly spoilt for choice.

 2017 has been a year of highs not just for BARC India, but for the TV industry at large. One of the highlights of the year was the sizable increase in the number of channels that we measure: From 450 channels in 2016 to 557 in 2017. Viewers showed increased interest in niche genres like English news, English GEC and lifestyle amongst others. Sample this: English News grew 127% over 2016, English GEC and Lifestyle genres recorded a 62% and 41% growth respectively. Hindi Movies rose by 38%, while sports grew by 30% over 2016. An interesting trend however, was the launch of a private FTA sports channel.

Talking of highs, 2017 signed off on an all-time high ATS (Average Time Spent) on TV in not just different markets (Assam, Kerala, Delhi amongst a few), but even in Megacities. A clear indication of the fact that Urban India too turns to the traditional medium when it comes to entertainment.

BARC India data shows that while young, affluent Indian living in metros (NCCS AB, Age Group 15-30, Mega-cities) may be viewing a certain amount of content on their handheld devices, their consumption on TV is also on a high. An all-time high ATS of 4 hour 34 minutes recorded in the last week of 2017 in Megacities shows that the affluent too are spending a lot of time watching TV.

What does this mean? With only 3.4% multi-TV homes in India, TV still remains the medium that unites families. It is due to this, that TV viewership sees a huge spike during holidays, festivals and important events.

2017 was a year of big events. Be it implementation of DAS-IV, re-estimation of television universe or the launch of new shows and channels. The space saw a lot of action. It was also the year, which once again proved that viewers today are choosy and impatient. They are largely fickle. They will consume content which is relevant to them and they know where to get it. While these facts were known to many, BARC India’s robust measurement system has brought these aspects out with a much sharper focus.

One such trend that has come to the fore is that Indians are drawn to stars and TV viewership makes a few a bigger star than the rest. Be it the presence of Virat Kolhi in a match, or Prime Minister Narendra Modi appearing on screen, people watch. Add a star to a show and you can see viewership peak. For instance, Captain Kohli’s mere presence at the crease spikes viewership by as much as 30% on an average. Jumping on this brand-wagon was one particular clothing brand which placed 95% of its “Virushka” ads in just 3 weeks prior to the 2017 wedding season.

2017 was a year when sports went beyond cricket. Non-Cricket sports contributed to as much as 20% of the genre viewership. Of this, 80% in fact – came from Kabaddi, Football and the Rio Olympics. What this also meant was that it was a year which saw the rise of non-cricket stars like PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik. BARC India data shows that there was 25x growth in ads featuring PV Sindhu aired on TV in 2017 over 2016.

With 15% growth in the number of News channels over 2016, it was a big year for news genre as well. While several events like Ram-Rahim sentencing, state assembly elections and GST drove viewership, PM Modi continued to be the biggest viewership magnet in this space. Take for instance Independence Day, which was watched by 26 million people. The event led to 2 times spike in viewership of Hindi News channels, while English News channels grew 7 times (compared to previous 4-week average). Gujarat state assembly elections, another important event which looked like a make or break for the ruling party, saw high interest from viewers. Hindi News genre on the counting day grew by 130%, while English News saw a growth of 272%.

The movie space too saw some new stars becoming viewership magnets. The space which till 2016 was ruled by Salman Khan, in 2017 saw the rise of Prabhas and the Bahubali franchise. The first time “Bahubali - The Conclusion” was telecast on TV, the entire genre saw a jump of 21%. The repeat airing too led to a spike of 18%. It comes as no surprise that both the Bahubali movies are amongst the top watched movies of the year. Of course at the end of the year, Salman made a comeback at the silver screen with Tiger Zinda Hai, which as per reports has already crossed the Rs 500 crore mark. Now what the impact of this movie will be when it airs on TV, is yet to be seen.

In the Hindi general entertainment space, Reality shows proved to be a big game changer. Doubling the share of reality shows on Prime Time also yielded better viewership for channels. Sample this: While fiction delivered more viewership vis-à-vis reality shows in 2016, this year Reality shows delivered 1.7 million impressions per episode, which was 16% higher than the 1.4 million impressions/episode garnered by fiction based shows.

With an average time spent of 4 hours 11 minutes, viewers in TN/Pondicherry top the chart of TV consumption. AP/Telangana with an ATS of 4 hour 10 minutes is a close second, followed by Karnataka, where viewers spend a good 3 hour 59 minutes watching TV. In fact, with 4 hour 14 minutes, Kerala in week 52 registered an all-time high ATS. The big question now is what do viewers in these markets prefer watching? A close look at the data shows that while movies continued to be preferred, especially in Tamil Nadu and AP/Telangana; Kerala and Karnataka showed a strong preference for News. The preference for GEC and music was high in Maharashtra, while viewers in West Bengal increased their consumption of movies.

The year gone by has been an eventful year. With all the learnings of the past, the industry will look to cash in on emerging opportunities. Our endeavour will be to provide a strong foundation to these opportunities, by giving the industry a robust currency, and sharp insights into “What India Watches.”
(The author is the CEO, BARC India)
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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