India’s regional channels have been the big beneficiaries of shifting consumer habits in the wake of changes to the way households buy paid-for TV content.

In February 2019, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) implemented the New Tariff Order (NTO), which allows households to customise the channels and bundles of channels they receive, but means they pay more for those they want to access.

For most subscribers, that has meant dramatically reducing the number of channels coming into the home – with the effect that overall time spent watching television has been hit.

A report from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and consulting firm EY points to 6% decline in the second half of 2019, reported.

But not all genres and channels have been feeling the pain evenly.

Channels in Hindi and Tamil suffered a drop in viewing; and English channels dubbed into Hindi were among the hardest hit, with a drop of over 20% in the number of minutes they were watched.

Channels broadcasting in regional languages have been the big winners, however, seeing the largest surges in consumption and, as a result, in advertising revenue.

Viewing of channels broadcasting in Urdu, Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Marathi and Gujarati has risen by over 20%, with channels in Punjabi seeing a 48% boost in the number of minutes viewed.

Advertisers followed consumers, with the result that ad volumes for regional channels grew overall by 4%, while that for national channels fell 6% during the same period.

The change is in line with an evolution in the types of content Indian consumers are selecting across all media, according to

While regional content accounted for over half of TV viewership in 2019, it was also 44% of films released in cinemas, made up 43% of newspaper circulation, and around 30% of over-the-top consumption.

The FICCI report estimated that viewership of regional content would continue to grow, and would soon reach 55%, thanks largely to improvements in quality. The sector is also attracting international investment.

“India’s many regional and local-language markets offer exciting growth fundamentals for global and domestic media companies alike,” the FICCI report stated.

“However, to succeed in these regional markets, customisation is critical. Global media companies recognise this imperative and many are already producing their programming in multiple Indian languages to increase reach.”

Sourced from; additional content by WARC staff