The Big Picture: HD channel viewership up by 140% in two years

Industry experts attribute this growth to factors like increase in interest for watching high quality content, growth in HD households & dip in cost of TV sets

e4m by Moumita Bhattacharjee
Published: Sep 27, 2019 8:35 AM  | 4 min read

A look at TV viewership pattern post the implementation of TRAI’s New Tariff Order has revealed that there has been a massive spike in takers for HD channel in 2019.

The new MRP regime gives viewers the power to select channels of their choice and pay for only those.

Data Deal

As per data provided to us by BARC India, in 2019 the number of HD channels has gone up by 18 per cent when compared to 2017. Till the end of 2017, the HD channel count was 75. In 2018, it shot up to 84 for the same period and in 2019 there are 89 HD channels live.

Viewership of HD channels has more than doubled for the all-India market with a growth of 146 per cent in 2019 as compared to 2017. This growth has been largely driven by the South market where HD viewership has gone up by 272 per cent. In the HSM market, HD viewership has grown by 99 per cent.

Meanwhile, time spent on HD channels is up by 85 per cent in the South and by 51 per cent in the HSM markets.

A look at which genres have made the maximum cut places GECs at 62 per cent, Movies at 21 per cent, Sports at 12 per cent and the rest at 5 per cent.
Even the KPMG report has suggested that rising HD subscriber base is expected to result in better realisations in terms of subscription revenues.

What drives the growth?

Sharing insights into the South market taking the largest share, PR Satheesh, COO, MMTV, says: “Accreditation from the normal TV screen to a better TV screen is happening because the next generation wants to watch better quality content. Also South has a larger penetration of television compared to North. People in the South have been watching television for a long time, specifically in Kerala. The Malayalam audiences has an influence coming from the Middle East, west America and other countries. There are a lot of Malayalis who live outside Kerala and are used to better quality content. When they come back for good, they want an upgrade for themselves or for their family. And this is why HD is only bound to grow in the South.”

The MMTV COO also pointed out that although the cost of acquiring HD set-top boxes is higher the move will happen eventually.

Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head - Hindi Mass Entertainment and Kids TV Network Viacom18, agrees the number of HD homes has increased. “With a growth in HD households will come an increase in consumption and inventories. HD is already sold at a premium. Inventories are scarcer than a normal SD. Scarcer inventory becomes that much more expensive. We will see HD pick up with number of HD TVs increasing. You will see a lot more impetus in that front.”

According to Neville Bastawalla, Head - Marketing & On-Air Promotions, Sports Channels, Sony Pictures Networks India, it’s all about the big screen experience which gets enhanced due to HD quality. “When you are going home from office, you watch a match on the phone. The moment you are home, you want the big screen. HD is only enhancing that. It is easy to get TVs as prices are going down, so viewership is only going to go up.”

Does this translate into a hike in advertising revenues?

All of this boils down to whether this hike in viewership has been translating into increased interest among advertisers.

While Jaipuria says interest among advertisers has increased, it has not been as much as SD channels.

PR Satheesh says, “From what I have observed in terms of other competitive channels is that there hasn’t been any significant rise in AdEx flow. I think the viewership is there but it is about the advertisers’ priority to look at HD in a more microscopic way.”

As per TAM AdEx data, the ad volumes have increased in 2019 when compared with the previous year for the period January to September.

The 'Ecom-Media/Entertainment/Social Media' category tops the list of advertisers on HD channels with 25 per cent growth in 2019 as compared to the same period in 2018.

Advertising in the category 'DTH Service Providers' witnessed 8.5 times growth in 2019.

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