A look at how TRAI’s new tariff order is impacting Hindi GECs
By Sonam Saini
The new tariff regime by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) saw broadcasters such as Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL), Star India, Viacom18 and Sony Pictures Network withdraw their free-to-air (FTA) channels from Doordarshan’s FreeDish platform. Hitherto, these channels enjoyed substantial viewership on the platform. But this has led to other lesser-known channels coming into the limelight.
According to an Edelweiss report, with the onset of the new tariff regime and given the non-availability of channels like Zee Anmol, Sony Pal, Star Utsav and Star Bharat, less popular channels, namely Dangal TV and Big Magic, have managed to double and triple their viewership, respectively (on average), in the Hindi GEC rural segment.
The cumulative share of the FTA Hindi GEC channels (rural) for weeks 1-5 was around 79% across seven channels. In weeks 14-17, this decreased to 59% across three channels.
According to the report, Dangal TV, owned by Enterr10, now commands a viewership share of 21% (which was 8% before the tariff order), and ZEEL’s Big Magic around 15% in the Hindi GEC segment. Star Bharat’s viewership share has dropped to 6% while Sony Pal’s to 2.5% under the new tariff regime. Zee Anmol and Colors Rishtey did not feature among the top 10 channels in weeks 14-17.
Dangal TV, the biggest gainer, was originally a Bhojpuri channel. It turned into a Hindi GEC and started airing old shows like Mahima Shani Dev Ki, Ramayan and Baba Aiso Var Dhundo. Meanwhile, Big Magic, which was acquired by ZEEL in 2016, airs original content.
“We will evaluate the content mix of original and library content for Zee Anmol. This would come into play as soon as the latent demand surges, which is expected in the near future as consumers steadily shift to paid subscription,” says Ashish Sehgal, chief growth officer, ZEEL.
Most GECs that pulled out from FreeDish have witnessed a drop of 25% in their ratings. Impressions are down by about 17% (aggregate); by 12% in urban and 26% in rural markets. And this has benefitted other channels and genres.
According to media experts, there has been a tenfold increase in the ad rate for a 10-second spot on Dangal TV — it is now `10,000-12000. Similarly, Big Magic is now charging around `8000-10,000 for a 10-second spot.
Previously, FMCG advertisers were able to meet their reach and frequency requirements with FTA Hindi GECs, which have now become pay channels. Vineet Sodhani, CEO, Spatial Access, says now that they are not performing as well as they were before the TRAI order, “advertisers’ GRP requirements are not being met”, and channels like Dangal TV are being added to their media mix.
Advertisers launching new campaigns are most impacted by the new viewership trends, says K Srinivas Rao, national director – buying, Mediacom. “Advertisers that run campaigns all year long will attain their targets through channels that have been delivering their requirements in the past. But those who carry out limited period campaigns are shifting plans from previously top-rated channels to the new leaders.”
Distributors are trying to get FTA viewers to migrate to pay TV. Although Dangal TV and Big Magic have continued to maintain their leadership positions for eight weeks now, Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO, Greater South, Dentsu Aegis Network, believes that once viewership stabilises, BARC India data will be able to give “an accurate feel of what India watches”. He says, “Whichever channel is getting a higher viewership will start getting more advertising.”