Growth in TV penetration a boon for broadcasters amid digital onslaught

Industry experts discuss the recent findings by BARC India's TV Universe Estimates 2020, which shows a 6.9% growth in Indian TV households in 2020

e4m by Sonam Saini & Javed Farooqui
Updated: Apr 21, 2021 8:54 AM

The Indian TV broadcasting industry continues to march ahead notwithstanding the digital onslaught that has impacted other mediums like print and radio. This fact is borne out by the recent TV Universe Estimates 2020 put out by Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC India).

As per BARC India TV Universe Estimates 2020, the total number of TV households registered a 6.9% growth to reach 210 million in 2020 from 197 million in 2018. The number of TV viewing individuals has seen a 6.7% jump reaching 892 million from 836 million in 2018.

The TV-owning female population is growing at a faster pace compared to the male population. The female TV-owning population is 7%, while the male population grew by 6%. At 9%, the kids' category has notched the highest growth among different age groups.

Hindi Speaking Market (HSM) and Rural continue to be the growth driver for the TV industry. TV households in rural markets have grown by 9% to 119.2 million in 2020 compared to Urban markets, which grew by 4% to 91 million. While TV households across India grew by 6.9%, HSM grew by 8%, outpacing All India as well as the southern states that grew by 5%.

The audience measurement body has clarified that the TV UE 2020 has been developed by computing the Linear growth of TV Households and TV Individuals from Broadcast India (BI) Studies conducted in 2016 and 2018 at geographic and demographic levels. The distribution of the TV population by NCCS was taken from the most recent Indian Readership Survey (IRS).

BARC India has started implementing the findings from the TV Universe Estimates 2020 for its data starting Week 14, 2021, which was released on 16th April. In parallel, a large-scale establishment survey as a part of Broadcast India (BI) 2021 is also currently underway.

IPG Mediabrands India CEO and BARC India Technical Committee chairperson Shashi Sinha said that the TV UE 2020 is an extrapolation exercise because the fieldwork couldn't be done due to the pandemic. "So this is an interim stage exercise being done. It's a simple extrapolation. The actual thing will come when the actual fieldwork happens in 2021 or whenever the pandemic ends," he stated.

According to a senior executive from a leading network, the estimates mean different things to different broadcasters. While the growth in NCCS A and B households is a positive sign for premium content owners, the growth of TV households also means fragmentation of audiences.

"For entertainment broadcasters, the concern is that the growth of TV households and the addition of new viewers will lead to fragmentation. The growth of NCCS A and B segments and the increase in the number of HD homes is good for sports broadcasters. Overall, it is a good sign that the TV households continue to grow but the benefit of this will also depend on NTO 2.0 and the manner in which it gets implemented. NTO 2.0 will decide if we need to have so many channels and the manner of offering. Just like NTO 1.0, the long tail channels will get impacted in NTO 2.0 also," the source said.

According to the TV UE 2020, the proportion of NCCS A and B has increased to 27% and 31% respectively while NCCS DE has further contracted to 9% of TV households in the country.

Sony Pictures Networks India Chief Revenue Officer - Ad sales and International Business Rohit Gupta said that the growth of TV penetration bodes well for the Indian TV broadcast industry considering the challenges faced by the medium globally.

"It is a positive sign that the TV households are growing. It is one of the few places in the world where the TV universe is growing. Penetration growth means the number of viewers is growing every year, which is good news for TV. Digital and TV are two growing mediums. The importance of TV is very high since it has a huge reach in India. Advertisers get to reach 200 million homes across the country due to TV. Ad revenues have also been growing due to the growth in penetration," Gupta stated.

The Q India Co-Founder and General Manager Sunder Aaron said that there is a huge untapped audience for TV broadcasters. He noted that TV continues to thrive in India even as mature markets are witnessing an exodus from TV to OTT. "Even if some people move to stream, it doesn't crowd out television. It's not a zero-sum game. People continue to watch TV because we are offering consumer entertainment in the home and it's the best way for the vast majority of Indians to receive entertainment."

He cited the example of DD Free Dish, which has become a massive content delivery platform in rural HSM. The BARC report also notes that the share of DD Free Dish in terms of Mode of Signal Reception (MOSR) has increased to 19% from 13% in 2018, and the share of Cable TV has decreased to 48%. "We launched our Hindi language youth-oriented channel The Q India on DD Free Dish because we know it is going to continue growing," he stated.

According to Aaron, another reason for the upswing in TV penetration is the growth in two-TV households. "A lot of TV households are graduating to two TV sets. It will be interesting to see the average number of TV sets per household."

Times Network President - Strategy and Business Head - News and English Entertainment Cluster Vivek Srivastava said, "TV penetration in the country is roughly 70% and there is a big room for growth for TV along with digital. TV still remains the Best ROI for the advertisers. As TV audiences continue to grow, so will ad rates and value to advertisers. News, the fastest-growing genre over the last 5 years, should consolidate its position further."

MM TV COO R Satheesh said there is not much change in Kerala as the TV penetration is already high. "There is not much of a change in Kerala. Our channel is basically in Malayalam and in Kerala, the changes are about 3%, which will not significantly impact the current monetisation possibilities. We were expecting this because Kerala already has a higher level of penetration. At the national level, the increase of 6.9% translates to a much larger number."

9X Media Group outgoing chief revenue officer Pawan Jailkhani believes that TV will grow at 12-15% every year. He also noted that BARC's expansion of people meters will help the industry to quantify this growth. "Even if TV households or TV viewing individual has grown, BARC doesn't monitor all these homes. Therefore, once the sample gets more significant from the current sample size, it will further strengthen advertising on TV."

Jailkhani believes that the growth in TV penetration will benefit a lot of non-GECs. "The ratio in the TV viewing is 60:40, wherein 60% goes to the GECs, and the rest of the viewership goes to non-GECs. With the expansion of the households and individual TV viewing, this ratio will change and it is likely to be 50:50 now."

"The TV Universe estimates 2020 indicate that largely more people are watching television. Overall it is just a question of measurement. Maybe earlier also, these people were watching. The broadcaster now would be able to show better numbers to the agencies/clients. Higher reach will allow broadcasters to monetise better," said a senior media planner, on condition of anonymity.

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