?With ongoing digitisation, television broadcasters are betting big on new channel launches aimed at niche audiences. Also, with the 12-minute cap on advertisements kicking in, industry stakeholders are looking for ways to make up for the reduced ad inventory.
Most broadcasters are yet to see an increase in subscription revenues, except for hi-definition (HD) channels.
Speaking on the sidelines of the recently concluded CII Big Pictures Summit, Sanjay Gupta, Chief Operating Officer, Star India, said, “We already have one and half million HD subscribers in the country. I think we are seeing a serious change in subscription revenues on HD. People are willing to pay for HD content,” he said.
Star India is set to launch its new channel Star World Premiere HD on September 24. Targeted at the youth, the channel will deliver fresh content in HD quality within a few hours of it premiering in the US. But Gupta did not specify how the channel would be priced, adding that it was being worked out in partnership with the DTH and cable platforms.
Gupta said, “With digitisation kicking in, people can access more channels, but the content being offered is still not differentiated. So, players are trying to offer differentiated content, as they look at addressing niche segments, and that’s the unlocking of digitisation as it sets in.”
As TV channels gear up for the shift to the 12-minute ad cap by October, Gupta believes it is good for consumers and will increase engagement levels. “In the short term, the industry will go through the pain of losing some revenue, but viewers will spend more time, will be willing to pay more, even advertisers will pay more,” he said.
Asked if advertisers were willing to pay a premium for TV ads after channels are in the process of hiking rates, Gupta said, “The cost of putting an ad and reaching out to a consumer per 10 seconds for every exposure is very low. We need to relook our ad pricing.”
These were challenging but exciting times for the industry, he said. “As digitisation is going to change content consumption, and subscription revenues go up, and at the same time ad cap is implemented, while the economy is not in good shape…these are a lot of things coming together at the same time. The industry needs to find new answers to emerge as stronger businesses.”
As far as its sports content is concerned, Star India has been betting big on the Hindi commentary for cricket and soccer, among others.
“In the country, the regional and local language consumption of content is 98 per cent, and English is 2 per cent. But, in sports, 100 per cent content is in English. That is the dichotomy that we are trying to answer through the Hindi commentary. We need to talk to people in the language that they understand and can hence connect with sports better,” he added.
On the new audience measurement system effective since July, Gupta said, “I think there is a genuinely different measurement system with TVTs (Television viewership in thousands) coming in place. We are moving in the right direction. It is a minor change from percentage to absolute numbers, but it makes a big difference, as the issue earlier was that percentage data does not capture increase of the universe in TVR television ratings, but TVTs captures it well.”