Channel Trends: Regional vs National: Ssharad Alwe, MD, UPDATE Advertising

Guest Column: Ssharad Alwe, MD of UPDATE Advertising says the era of mass is over, this is the era of many 'mini Indias', each hyperlocal and hyper-targeted

e4m by Ssharad Alwe
Published: Jan 11, 2019 8:47 AM  | 4 min read

Welcome to TV’s Hyperlocal evolution. The era of mass is over, it has been smashed by digitization. People think global, live local, and consume content in their own dialect. This is the era of many 'mini Indias', each hyperlocal and hyper-targeted.

In a country like India having 90% of its people live beyond metros where the regional language reigns supreme, communication, and content in the lingua franca makes a lot of sense. While the metros are saturated markets, the real growth is happening beyond metros across mini metros, cities, districts, towns, and villages of India. It is primarily fueled by a growing middle class, growing urbanization, and the demand for newer products and services.

A National channel has to balance its programming to connect with approx. 18-19cr TV homes whereas a Regional channels draw better affinity from their states. According to a recent BARC report, a growing number of Indians also prefer watching content in their respective vernacular language. For instance, viewership of Bhojpuri channels has gone up by a whopping 134%, while Assamese has increased by 125%. Advertising revenue of Bhojpuri channels has increased by 54%, while Bangla and Tamil channels have shown a rise of 39 % and 22% respectively. In contrast, the ad revenue for Hindi channels went up by just 10%. (Source: BARC).

As a result, we can see most of the leading broadcast networks are beginning to invest a lot more on regional channels. The trend now is to look beyond GECs in vernacular languages. E.g.: - Colors Kannada Cinema, Star India with sports channel in Tamil and another big network already has Malayalam & Assamese channel in the pipeline.

But these regional audiences are vastly heterogeneous – in terms of language, dialects, culture, ethnicity, regional and social affiliations. And, this is the audience, rooted in diversity, that advertisers want to entice, engage, and convert into loyal customers.

Now can you imagine a GEC in Awadhi or a News channel in Konkani or Music channel in Mizo language or GEC in Tullu? Yes, they all exist on Local Broadcasting platform & attract consumer eyeballs for their locally customized content. Because our population at large ‘think in their mother-tongue’.

Nowhere is the impact of digitization so pronounced, and so ignored, as in the local broadcasting business. TV digitization, the shift from Analog to Digital Set-top boxes, has disrupted the broadcast market, by allowing the evolution of narrowcasters.

Thus, this local cable network, using digitization, has transformed into the local broadcaster – narrowcasting a bouquet of channels to meet regional, local and localized needs for news, entertainment, movies, devotional, music, and much more. 

Movies genre has always been a winner for cable over their satellite counterparts, now with other genres such as News, Music, GEC & Religious added to their kitty with an edge of “locally relevant content”, this local broadcasting business is here for a long run.

Local broadcasters compete with national broadcasters at the local level, with localized content that audiences enjoy with the same kind of packaging and quality as the national channels.

For example, there are no national channel & negligible regional channels catering to the North East, but there are over 100 local broadcasting channels who fulfill their content needs. There are over 60 channels that are serving just the eastern part of UP. All these varied genre channels air ‘locally relevant, customized content’ across PAN India.

The consumer is not part of an undifferentiated mass, but part of this diversity across the nation. Here India and Bharat coexist in the same consumer. It is not only about regular FCT but content-based engagement solutions on Local Broadcasting platform.

With the fragmentation of mainstream media increasing, and as the audience splinters, local broadcasting is waiting to catch these audiences.   Local broadcasters deliver to you the hyperlocal audience - A Socio-Cultural Geo-targeted audience that is the ever-growing consumer base!


(The author is the Managing Director of UPDATE Advertising)


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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