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DD Freedish reaches India’s 40 mn TV homes; South gains maximum ‘Pay DTH’

DD Freedish, a free DTH service, now reaches a whopping 40 million of India’s 180 million TV homes. Analog cable continues its downward slide but digital cable is growing well. And pay DTH homes in the South are growing the fastest, giving Sun Direct a huge bump.

Those are the three big things that stand out from the Subscriber Establishment Survey done by Chrome Data Analysis and Media. The bi-annual survey, which calls on over a million respondents, is the basis of Chrome’s services that broadcasters use to audit and optimise distribution spends. “There is a perception that TV is extinct. Moving 200 million homes from TV to OTT is a long journey, TV will be around for a long, long time,” says Pankaj Krishna, founder and CEO, Chrome (see chart 1).
He points to the uptick in TV homes from 168 million in 2020 to over 180 million. Note: Different methodologies mean that Chrome’s numbers vary from Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) data, which pegs total TV homes at 210 million. Chrome is, however, in tandem with BARC on the growth of DD Freedish.

State broadcaster Prasar Bharati’s free DTH brand is now at just over half of all pay DTH homes. This is, along with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI’s) convoluted attempts at price control, a big reason analog cable continues to lose subscribers. In the last six months alone, analog cable lost almost 80 per cent share in Hindi speaking markets, going by Chrome data. This is the market where Freedish gained the most (see chart 2).

Every major broadcaster now has a free-to-air channel on Freedish, airing the same shows that are on pay DTH or digital cable.

In 2019, when several broadcasters withdrew from Freedish because of the rising prices of buying a slot on the service, Dangal TV, a complete outsider, came in to grab the No 1 position in large parts of the Hindi-speaking markets. So, “Freedish is now a make or break scenario for a channel,” points out Krishna. That is because a bulk of the revenues that broadcasters make in the Rs 68,500 crore television business, come from advertising. And losing 40 million homes will mean a plummeting of eyeballs and, therefore, advertising.

If the analog cable homes in Hindi-speaking markets are going to DD Freedish, in the more prosperous South they are migrating to pay DTH. Business Standard

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