Repeat telecast? Big broadcasters may return to DD FreeDish
Industry sources say Disney Star, ZEEL, Culver Max Entertainment and Viacom18 plan to bid for the DD FreeDish slots for their Hindi GECs like Star Utsav, Zee Anmol, Sony Pal and Colors Rishtey
Published - Jan 30, 2023 8:53 AM | 5 min read
The media industry is once again abuzz with speculations that big broadcasters are all set to participate in the MPEG-2 e-auction of Prasar Bharati’s free direct to home (DTH) platform DD FreeDish.
According to reliable sources, Disney Star, ZEEL, Culver Max Entertainment (previously known as SPNI), and Viacom18 plan to bid for the DD FreeDish slots in the upcoming auction for their Hindi General Entertainment Channels (GECs) like Star Utsav, Zee Anmol, Sony Pal and Colors Rishtey.
"We are expecting that Prasar Bharati will soon notify the auction date for MPEG-2 as they have already announced dates for MPEG-4. We will have more clarity once they notify us with the details," said a senior executive of a leading broadcaster on the condition of anonymity. He also stated that the number of available auction slots is likely to be around 89, with the possibility of an increase.
Prasar Bharati has notified the allotment of MPEG-4 slots of the DTH platform through fifth annual e-auction process which is tentatively to be held on February 16. The pubcaster is yet to notify the MPEG-2 auction, which usually takes place in March.
The big four broadcast networks chose to withdraw their Hindi GECs from DD FreeDish in March 2022 last year. The decision, as reported by exchange4media, was taken due to pressure from pay DTH platforms such as Tata Play, Airtel XStream, and Dish TV. Pay DTH platforms have been losing subscribers to DD Free Dish, which has grown into a TV distribution powerhouse with over 40 million customers. However, since the withdrawal of the Hindi GECs from the platform, broadcasters have faced a loss of ad revenue due to a drop in GRPs, even as subscription revenue has remained under pressure due to the migration of customers to alternate platforms such as DD Free Dish and over-the-top (OTT) video streaming.
"There are high chances that broadcasters will bid for DD FreeDish slots and bring back their Hindi GECs, but we have to wait and see. Once the notification is issued, we will have more clarity, but yes, channels may return to the platform," said another senior industry professional.
"I am confident that they will bid and bring back their Hindi GECs on DD FreeDish. All of the channels that have left FreeDish have suffered in terms of revenue and viewership. It will be worthwhile to return to the platform. The viewership that the channels receive from the free market is enormous, and the only thing that can deter people from returning to the platform will be the base price/entry price," said a senior executive of another leading TV network.
According to broadcast industry sources, in the current scenario, advertising revenues are under pressure and broadcasters are unable to meet their targets. DD FreeDish or digital are taking away advertising revenue from linear broadcasters.
Punit Goenka, MD & CEO of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL), in the earnings call for Q2FY23, shared that the DTH industry's subscriber numbers have been rapidly declining over the last two years. It has decreased from 58 million subscribers to 53 million subscribers. “This was the sole reason for us to withdraw because we were seeing a lot of the DTH subscribers migrate to DD FreeDish.” A large part of the FTA revenue flows directly down to the bottom line and has an impact on our EBITDA, said Goenka.
Prasar Bharati earned Rs 645 crore from the allocation of 58 MPEG-2 slots on its DTH platform in March last year. This is a 12% decrease from the pubcaster's previous e-auction, in which it earned Rs 731.34 crore from the sale of 57 DD Free Dish MPEG-2 slots. The exit of key channels such as Star Utsav, Zee Anmol, Sony Pal, Colors Rishtey, Star Utsav Movies, and Sony Wah was the major reason for the revenue drop.
Prasar Bharati has invited applications for allotment of MPEG-4 slots of DD FreeDish platform for the period April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024 through 5th annual e-auction process (66th e-auction). Bidding will be open to all genre channels at a reserve price of Rs 50 lakh per annum. Last year in the annual auction of MPEG -4, 12 channels were allocated MPEG-4 slots on DD FreeDish.
According to experts, DD FreeDish introduced MPEG-2 10-15 years ago and has a first-mover advantage, whereas MPEG-4 is a better technology. Because there is no comprehensive data on the number of MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 set-top boxes, most broadcasters prefer MPEG-2. Experts also claim that MPEG-4 boxes are limited, which limits broadcasters' interest. In fact, the majority of the channels that won the slot in the most recent annual auction were from the news genre.
A total of 63 channels were successfully assigned slots in various genres in the annual auction. The number of channels in the News and Current Affairs category has increased from 11 to 14, while the number of channels in the Hindi Music, Hindi Sports, Hindi Teleshopping, Bhojpuri Movies, and Bhojpuri General Entertainment categories has increased from 13 to 16.
With a reach of more than 43 million households, DD FreeDish has grown to become the largest DTH platform. Doordarshan's free DTH service has grown nearly 100% from 22 million in 2017 to 43 million in 2022.
Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)For more updates, be socially connected with us on
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube
Tags Dd freedish Prasar bharati Tv industry MPEG 2 e auction internet advertising India TV advertising India tv advertising tv ad tv ad campaign tv campaign tv news tv tv Ad campaign campaign advertising internet advertising tv media tv marketin