TRAI’s TV tariff order changes rules of the game

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on April 25, 2019 Published on April 25, 2019

The consumer has to pay the basic Network Capacity Fee of Rs. 130 a month for a bouquet of 100 channels. The pay channels cost extra K Murali Kumar

Ever heard of a channel called Dangal TV? It is India’s most popular general entertainment channel, at least for the past four weeks.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) move to rejig the cable TV space once again is giving rise to a new set of channels such as Dangal TV that were unheard of until a couple of months ago .

With 993 million views, Dangal TV was the second most popular channel in the country, across categories, marginally behind Star Sports 1 Hindi, which spiked primarily because of the IPL.

Compared to Colors, which had a viewership of 511 million, Dangal had nearly twice the number of viewers during April 13-19, according to data compiled by the Broadcast Audience Research Council India.

In rural India, Dangal was nearly five times more popular than Colors and nearly four times more popular than Star Plus and Zee TV.

Dangal, among the very select Hindi general entertainment channels available on DD Free Dish and Doordarshan’s free DTH service, is gaining popularity because of the sudden rise in consumers’ cable TV bills.

TRAI’s new pricing regime mandates that all channels declare their prices. Consumers are free to select the individual channels they want to watch.

In principle, the policy was supposed to reduce the amount on cable TV bills, but most consumers have seen a reverse, prompting them to look for either free channels or dump cable TV altogether.

Increasing TV bills

According to credit rating agency CRISIL, monthly TV bills have gone up by about 25 per cent from ₹230-₹240 to around ₹300 per month for viewers who opt for the top 10 channels, but have come down for those who opt up to top five channels.

Similar results were found in several other studies.

Popular in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Dangal TV’s free offering and showcase of epic Ramayana during this period have helped it surge way ahead of the competition.

The shift in viewing is not only impacting paid TV channels, but cable TV as a whole. OTT (over-the-top) players such as Hotstar, Zee5, VOOT, Amazon Prime and Eros Now are the biggest beneficiaries.

“Youngsters are rapidly moving towards on-demand video streaming platforms since they are always on the move and can easily watch whatever they want on the mobile. Moreover, partnerships with telecom operators has ensured that several of the OTT platforms are now freely available on the video streaming platforms of Airtel, Vodafone and Jio. Viewers now have access to several popular channels on mobile phones for free along with several hundred hours of original programming,” said an industry expert.

Published on April 25, 2019

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