With festive pricing cuts, broadcasters hoping to make revenue gains in long run: Experts

While cuts in a-la-carte channel prices may lead to increase in viewers and thus subscription revenue, it remains to be seen if this will translate to substantial gains, say experts

by exchange4media Staff
Published - Oct 15, 2019 8:20 AM Updated: Oct 15, 2019 9:34 AM

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TV

Most major broadcasters have rolled out festive season offers with heavy cuts in a-la-carte channel prices, most likely to regain the viewers they had lost post the implementation of TRAI’s New Tariff Order.

Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), Star TV, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) and Viacom 18 have reduced a-la-carte channel prices by nearly 37 per cent.

According to experts, this might lead to a loss in subscription revenue in the short term but broadcasters are now just keen on increasing ad sales through reduced subscription rates that guarantee increased viewership volume.

So what do the festive deals have to offer?

Viacom18, for instance, has announced a-la-carte price for its flagship Hindi GEC - COLORS and Kannada GEC - COLORS Kannada each at Rs 12 month. In line with this special festive pricing, Viacom18 has launched a consumer awareness campaign ‘Har Din Diwali’ to encourage viewers to subscribe to these channels at the new price point. As part of this offer, the a-la-carte price of COLORS and COLORS Kannada each has been reduced from Rs 19 to Rs 12 per month.

Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO and MD, Viacom18, said, “As a broadcast network, our aim is to make our channels more accessible and affordable to all viewers across the country. While we are launching a slew of exciting shows on our channels, this festive offer - ‘Har Din Diwali’ will further empower our consumers to access their favourite shows at a more affordable price point.”

Likewise, SPN, has announced a special offer, allowing consumers to avail a festive à-la-carte pricing of Rs 12 month for its premier entertainment channels - SET, Sony SAB and Sony MAX. The a-la-carte rates of these channels otherwise are between Rs 15 and Rs 19.

N P Singh, Managing Director and CEO, Sony Pictures Networks India, said, “It is our constant endeavour to provide quality entertainment at great value. This festive offer includes our highly rated marquee prime time content. Our intent through this initiative is to contribute towards and complement the festive spirit.”

At ZEEL, the a-la-carte prices of Zee TV, Zee Marathi, Zee Bangla, Zee Telugu, Zee Kannada and Zee Sarthak have been reduced from Rs 19 to Rs 12 per month. Similarly, Star Plus, Star Maa, Star Jalsha, and Asianet have also been priced at Rs 12 a month under the festive offer.

While broadcasters might package the slashed pricings as festive offers, experts are expecting a good show in terms of getting new subscribers on board.

According to Vinita Pachisia, Senior Vice President, Carat India, “The reduced price of a few a-la-carte channels suggests a possibility that the broadcasters have not got enough subscriptions as they had hoped to. The effects of NTO have been felt by everyone and this could be a way for them to increase subscription revenues. Though the slash is quite substantial, it remains to be seen if the numbers will take a huge leap as expected by the broadcasters. They may benefit around 10 to 20 per cent now due to the reduced pricing but may not see a huge increase as this announcement is too close to Diwali.”

The slashed prices are not just a way to fight the implications of TRAI’s New Tariff Order but also an attempt to address the lull in the market. “It is evident that the festive season has been a very dull one and for broadcasters it has reflected on ad sales that have been poor. Since it is a value conscious market the slashed prices make a lot of difference in decision making by viewers. Lower rates would lead to more viewers and higher viewership is directly proportional to chances of getting more advertisements. So, the broadcasters’ intent here is clear,” said media expert Anita Nayyar.

A highly placed source in one of the leading DTH providers, however, feels that it is only the combination of slashed prices and good content that will get the viewers back to watching TV.

“Just dropping of rates will not get viewers because for such viewers there are always FTA channels. A balance between content and price has to be created to target the desired impact of increased subscription, increased viewership and better ad sales,” the source added.

Elaborating on the implications of the move, Pachisia said: “Today with the option of opting out of channel subscriptions within a day, reduced prices will have to be maintained or else there may again be drop outs. So it is important to wait and watch if the broadcasters continue with the reduced prices after the festive season. Another point to note is that the subscription could be genre skewed. An avid GEC viewer would have subscribed to his/her favourite GEC channel from Day 1 and not wait for the reduction in prices since there is an appointment viewing on these genres. The reduction in price may help channels where there is no fixed appointment viewing and the reduced prices may entice the viewer to subscribe to these channels now.”

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