More TV households: Will Bihar, Assam & Odisha open new opportunities for broadcasters?

While experts agree that the states are excellent markets to explore for broadcasters, they say capturing audiences in these regions won’t be a cakewalk due to the rising popularity of OTT

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: May 12, 2021 8:37 AM  | 5 min read


More TV households: Will Bihar, Assam & Odisha open new opportunities for broadcasters?

While experts agree that the states are excellent markets to explore for broadcasters, they say capturing audiences in these regions won’t be a cakewalk due to the rising popularity of OTT


TV households in eastern states of Bihar/Jharkhand, Assam/Northeast and Odisha witnessed double-digit growth in 2020. As per the latest Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India TV Universe Estimates 2020, the three states recorded 23%, 14%, and 13%, growth in TV households respectively, resulting in an overall increase in viewership as well. 

According to BARC, in line with the pattern of regional growth of the population, TV viewership has grown more in these three states. Bihar/Jharkhand, Assam/Northeast and Odisha have witnessed a higher growth in TV households and viewership compared to other Hindi Speaking Markets (HSM). So, will this increase in TV households in these markets open up new opportunities for both broadcasters and brands? Definitely yes, say industry leaders, but they believe that the process of capturing audience in these markets is not going to be a cakewalk.  

Tanaya Patnaik, Executive Director of Samad Group, is optimistic that an increase in the number of TV households in these markets will increase the interest of other broadcasters. Sambad Group, one of the largest media networks in the Odisha, owns a news channel (Kanak News), a free-to-air entertainment channel (Manjari), and a radio network (Choklate). 

"There is a market for entertainment channels. I think broadcasters can take advantage of this increase in reach through good entertainment content, specifically in Odisha, which has saturated with news channels," opined Patnaik. 

But Patnaik feels that though it is an excellent opportunity for broadcasters, the task will not be easy because of the growing popularity of OTT.  "If TV households are increasing, people using mobile sets are also increasing. There is scope for good GECs in a market like Odisha as the existing channels in the space mostly telecast dubbed content. Dubbed content doesn't have the charm of original content. To connect with the regional audience, you need good content," Patnaik pointed out.

The TV population in Odisha is growing at a swift pace. TV penetration has witnessed a jump of 72% in between the last two censuses. As per the BARC Universe Estimate, Odisha is among the fastest growing TV markets.

Srija Shahin Siddhartha, Programming Head, Colors Odia, says that this would be the phenomenon in most east and northeast states as they have recently seen economic progress leading to an increase in the disposable income of the middle class. “An increase in per-capita income has ensured more TV being bought for the first time. Also, with the ease of accessibility and very competitive pricing, set-top boxes are now more pocket-friendly. This increase in TV population will lead to overall growth in TV viewership and hence revenue opportunities.”

"With a certain content across genre, Colors Odia’s viewership has grown 83% in the last one year, and the time spent per viewer has increased by 32% compared to the previous financial year. Apart from fiction, the family drama –fantasy genre has been the most viewed content. Colors Odia is the only GEC showing content for kids in Odia language, which has brought significant viewership during the lockdown. Movie viewership has drastically increased. From telefilms to classics, and world television premieres, movies have garnered huge ratings in the Odisha market. Colors Odia has a dedicated movie slot in the afternoon for all movie lovers," shared Siddhartha.  

As per the BARC weekly data, Tarang is the leading channel in the market, followed by Zee Sarthak and Alankar. Other channels in the top five include Colors Odia and Tarang Music. 

Last month, Sidharth TV Network announced launch of four channels in Orissa. The test signal of Sidharth Bhakti already begun on April 1, 2021, and the other two satellite channels, Sidharth TV (GEC) and Sidharth Gold (Music & Movie), will go on air in May. 

In Bihar and Jharkhand, Zee Biskope is the leading channel, followed by Bhojpuri Cinema, B4U Bhojpuri, Big Ganga, and Dabangg. In Assam/Northeast market, Rang entertainment channel is the top channel, followed by Rengoni (GEC) and Ramdhenu (music). Jonack (GEC) and Popular TV (movie) are other prominent channels in the market. 

According to Shailesh Kapoor, Founder & CEO, Ormax Media, despite being a mass medium, TV penetration in India is less than 70%, which allows for enough room for growth. “India still has 90 million (9 crore) households that are not connected to TV. Since Bihar/ Jharkhand, Odisha and the North East are some of the less-developed states and have the higher rural population, they are also the ones where TV penetration is low, as low as less than 40% in Bihar-Jharkhand," he explained.

Kapoor further added, "Expansion of the TV universe from 197 million homes to 210 million homes is a positive for the TV industry, as it creates room for higher monetization, especially for free-to-air channels targeting rural markets, where the expansion has been higher than the urban markets. But one can't expect any market-specific benefit, as none of these markets hold more than 2-3% share of viewership and hence advertising."

Vishal Shah, Managing Partner, MediaCom, feels that the growth in these markets is a positive sign for the television industry. "For the longest time, Bihar and Odisha have been considered traditional media-dark markets and it was primarily due to low TV penetration, and reach.”

“Also, we have seen a trend of FTA channels launching in these markets, and these channels will pick up viewership and benefit from this growth," he adds.




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