MUMBAI: The TV will continue to be the focal point for family entertainment in India for some years yet, according to an industry figure, even as increased internet penetration and smartphone ownership are altering the media landscape.

In a WARC Exclusive, The Future of TV in India, Kunal Sinha, Executive Director – Advisory at Kantar Insights, notes that even though digital advertising is growing twice as fast as the television industry (in terms of both advertising and subscription revenues), the latter will still be four times as big in 2021.

There are several reasons why television will retain its leading spot, he suggests. One is the rapid expansion of Free Dish channels, offering Free-To-Air, Direct-to-Home programming.

With users able to watch content without paying any subscription fee, this has become a cost-effective option for advertisers wanting to reach lower and middle-income households, especially in India’s vast rural hinterland, Sinha says.

The increased availability of rural viewership data, facilitated by the ratings agency BARC, has also persuaded advertisers of the value of these channels.

“One of the defining characteristics of modern India is the resurgence of national, and local pride,” Sinha adds – and with that has come demand for content in local languages.

“Regional content is being driven by a better understanding of viewer preferences, and a marked improvement in production quality of regional television programming.

“For example, Gujarati and Marathi shows focus on fashion, food and lifestyle, Punjabi and Bengali on music.”

The last couple of years have also seen a proliferation of OTT platforms, but Sinha believes that the cost to consumers will limit their uptake.

“Broadcast television remains a very affordable option, and this, along with the penchant for consuming content with the family, suggests that digital and television will co-exist, and various stakeholders – telecom operators, content creators, broadcasters – will need to work together and design their offers in synergy, not competition.”

He expects that television will thrive while the industry takes advantage of personalised technology to offer an on-demand viewer experience and to distribute individualised content.

Consequently, planners, data scientists and creatives will need to develop a deeper understanding of the complementary roles that different kinds of screens play in the lives of the population and design content accordingly, Sinha concludes.

Sourced from WARC