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Zee Closes In On Star India As Most-Watched Entertainment Network

Zee Network’s viewership share in entertainment broadcasting space rose in August even as consumer-friendly television rules shrunk subscriber base and Indians cut cords amid a cheap data boom.

Zee Network, with a viewership of 25 percent, also closed the gap with market leader Star India, which lost four percentage points, CLSA said in a report, citing data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council.

Star India Pvt. Ltd., Zee Network, TV18 Broadcast Ltd., Sony Pictures Network India and Sun TV Network Ltd. together account for 83 percent of total viewership share in August, the brokerage said in the report authored by analyst Deepti Chaturvedi.

Viewership rating drives pricing for advertising, which contributes 60-70 percent of the revenue for broadcasters.

Most of the gains for Zee Network came from the rural market, where the viewership share of Hindi entertainment and Hindi movies segments improved. Higher viewership in regions such as West Bengal and Karnataka also helped. “Zee Network has seen a 20-30 percent rise in rural viewership of Zee TV and Zee Cinema, which bodes well not just for subscriptions but also for advertisement revenues,” CLSA said.

This comes at a time DD Free Dish pulled back its free-to-air channels and the new tariff order by the telecom regulator increased content costs for broadcasters as most channels turned pay. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India allowed subscribers to create their own bouquets and pay for whatever they want. That shrunk India’s pay television pie by a third. Also, cheap data allows streaming services such as Netflix Inc., Star India’s Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video to woo subscribers in the world’s second-largest internet user base.

On a yearly basis, however, Zee Network and Star India managed to hold onto their viewership shares. Smaller peers like Dangal TV and B4U Kadak gained share over the past year at the cost of TV18 Entertainment, Sony and Sun TV.

Overall, the viewership share of top five broadcasters improved from its March lows after the transition to TRAI’s new TV tariff regime and pullback of free-to-air channels from DD Free Dish, the report said. Yet, the current share of top broadcasters is still below pre-March levels of 91-92 percent.―Bloomberg Quint

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