MUMBAI: The cost of television advertising in India is likely to get cheaper, according to a leading industry figure, but advertisers are unlikely to benefit as they spread themselves across multiple channels.

"The problem with television is that there is too much supply, too many channels, too much inventory," according to Ashish Bhasin, Dentsu Aegis Network chairman and South Asia CEO

He told that the TV industry had missed a chance to keep ad rates up when it failed to comply with measures aimed at limiting ad time to 12 minutes an hour. "Hence, now there has been a commodisation of television air time."

And he expected that pricing would fall further as advertisers were forced to chase smaller audiences across numerous channels.

"An advertiser is only paying more money to get more audience," he noted, regardless of the particular channel. "If the reach or number of people is going to get more and more fragmented, then the per spot rate is headed south."

And the consequence of that, he added, could be that "overall, the advertiser may end up spending more because he has to take that many more spots to reach the audience he wants".

But he was optimistic about the medium-term future for the television industry, as he felt that, while digital continues to grow rapidly, "the reduction of dependency on a broadcaster is at least five to 10 years away in India."

Television penetration still has some way to go, Bhasin pointed out, especially in lower tier rural towns. And with public service broadcaster Doordarshan giving away its Free Dishes in the south, the penetration of free-to-air channels will only rise further.

"For the next five to 10 years there is enough space for all media to grow," he declared. "Even print, which is collapsing everywhere else in the world is still growing in India because literary levels are growing.

Data sourced from; additional content by Warc staff