Regional language content driving growth of TV viewership: BARC India

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2020 Published on March 12, 2020

Regional language content has emerged as a key growth driver for TV viewership over the past four years, thanks to its rising availability and popularity among viewers, , according to a report released by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India.

The BARC India report, titled ‘What India Watched - 2019’, observed that the viewership of most regional language programmes in terms of viewing minutes has doubled between 2016 and 2019.

Some of the regional languages whose channels which have witnessed a massive surge in viewership in the past four years are Gujarati (157 per cent), Assamese (125 per cent), Bhojpuri (200 per cent), Marathi (128 per cent), Urdu (179 per cent), Odia (111 per cent) and Bengali (83 per cent).

“The share of viewership of regional language channels, other than Hindi and the four southern languages, has risen steadily, from 15 per cent in 2016 to 23 per cent in 2019,” the BARC India report said.

However, their contribution to the total TV viewership pie still remains low. The contribution of Marathi, Odia and Bhojpuri channels to the total TV viewership in 2019 stood at 4 per cent, 2 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively. Accounting for less than 1 per cent were Gujarati channels (0.3 per cent), Assamese channels (0.5 per cent) and Urdu channels (0.1 per cent).

Southern surge

Meanwhile, the viewership of Tamil, Telugu and Kannada channels saw double-digit growth, at 31 per cent, 28 per cent and 61 per cent, respectively. Malyalam channels’ viewership grew 9 per cent in this period. While Tamil channels’ contribution to total TV viewership stood at 12 per cent in 2019, those of Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam channels stood at 7 per cent, 12 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively.

“In 2019, BARC India measured 634 channels which generated 48.4 trillion television viewing minutes,” said Sunil Lalla, CEO, BARC India. “TV viewership over the previous four years has been driven by strong growth led by regional language markets. The highlight of 2019 was the growth of sports coverage in regional languages. Overall, Assam and the rest of North-East, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and Tamil Nadu led the surge in 2019.”

He added that while 26,080 movies were aired on TV in 2019, the four South Indian languages contributed to 48 per cent of the unique movie titles.

Meanwhile, Hindi language channels continued to contribute the lion’s share to the total TV viewership. “Viewership for Hindi language channels has grown 31 per cent in the last four years and contributed to 44 per cent of the total TV viewership in 2019,” the report said.

English language channels, meanwhile, witnessed a 41 per cent decline in viewership in the four-year period, and their contribution to total TV viewership stood at 1 per cent last year. One of the key reasons for the decline has been sports broadcasters increasingly telecasting content in Hindi and other regional languages, the report added.

Published on March 12, 2020

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