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Competition from OTT leads to launch of new TV channels

Broadcasters continued to launch new channels as television viewership remained strong despite the growing popularity of video-streaming services. While the Disney-Star network will launch Star Kirano, an Odia language general entertainment channel (GEC), in the first week of June, QYOU Media, an American media company, announced a GEC, Q Marathi, after launching a digital animated content channel, The Q Kahaniyaan, in India for young viewers.

Both these will be pay channels. Meanwhile, Shemaroo Entertainment and Vibhu Agarwal (the owner of OTT platform Ullu) have entered television broadcasting with two free-to-air Hindi GECs called Shemaroo Umang and Atrangii. Additionally, in March, Viacom18 introduced a film channel Colors Cineplex Superhits.

Broadcasters said while the migration of viewers to over-the-top (OTT) video streaming is undeniable, there is scope to expand for the bottom-funnel or mass-market viewers, many of whom still live in single television households. Further, the transition to streaming has been far more marked for premium, upmarket genres, with regional viewers still taking to television content.

“While the share of television viewing as far as overall video consumption is concerned may have gone down, given that digital has galloped its way through the pandemic, overall TV consumption remains quite strong and has actually seen a rise, too,” Hiren Gada, chief executive officer at Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd, said. There is still scope for the ind-ustry to grow, given that India still has some TV-dark areas.

According to a 2020 estimate by TV monitoring agency Broadcast Audience Research Council, 210 million Indian households own a TV set, a rise of 6.9% from 197 million in 2018. The number of people watching television has also seen a rise of 6.7%, reaching 892 million from 836 million in 2018. According to the Ficci EY report 2022, TV advertising grew 25% in 2021, reviving from a 21.5% drop in 2020, just 2% short of 2019 levels. Television’s biggest strength has always been collective viewing, which will not go away in a hurry in India, said Vishal Nicholas, executive vice-president and head of planning and strategy, dentsuMB India. “So channels that produce family-friendly and family-attractive content will have a place for a long time to come,” Nicholas said.

“The other thing is that with the rise of connected TV, appointment viewing will reduce on TV channels and the same content will be available to stream anywhere, anytime on their digital app equivalents,” Nicholas said. While women will be a big source of growth for tent pole shows, hyperlocal and regional content will also find takers, he added.

Simran Hoon, chief executive officer, QYOU Media India agreed tier-two and tier-three towns of India don’t have enough entertainment at the moment and are mainly being served old soap operas on FTA channels. “If broadcasters can innovate, there is a real opportunity at play. Everyone has realised rural India is growing, incomes are rising and television is the only form of entertainment there. While a lot of these people are buying phones, TV is a family binding activity,” said Hoon. Live Mint

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