Indian broadcasters say the current cricket season has lifted TV viewing figures, despite new pricing foisted on the industry by the country’s regulatory body.

According to direct-to-home operators such as Dish TV, Hathway and Airtel, there has been a pick-up in viewers of 20% for HD and SD services around the broadcasting of the ICC World Cup and Indian Premier League (IPL).

This boost came despite the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) New Tariff Order, which means customers now select which channels and services they want to subscribe to, and requires broadcasters to set a maximum retail price for those services.

“Traditionally, sports events such as the Cricket World Cup have a positive impact on the broadcast industry and result in increased TV viewership,” Anil Dua, Executive Director & Group CEO, Dish TV India, told Exchange4Media.

“Viewers increasingly wish to have a cinematic experience at home and the emergence of smart TV and large screen TV have pushed the demand for HD channels, which offer better picture quality pictures with rich and natural colour.

“Also, in the new tariff regime, the uptake of HD channels has seen a boost because of similar pricing of key SD and HD channels," he said. "This has helped us to increase our HD subscriber base and we have recorded a 20-25% jump in HD adoption during this period.”

Piyush Pankaj, Chief Strategy Officer & Head Video Business-GTPL Hathway, told a similar tale, relating “a sudden surge in demand for HD channels” during this year’s IPL which extended into the ongoing Cricket World Cup, with a 20% rise in the demand for HD channels in particular.

“Demand for HD regional channels is also seeing an upward trend as people prefer to watch HD content on TV,” he added.

The appetite for sport and especially cricket is enormous in India and shows no signs of slowing. According to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), cricket content on Indian TV is nearing the one-million-hours-a-year level.

Even non-sports channels broadcast 4,700 hours of cricket content in 2016, and 5,400 in 2018.

At the same time, the number of sports channels has steadily risen as both HD channels and regional channel launches have been introduced.

Sourced from Exchange4Media; additional content by WARC staff