India fastest growing pay TV market: Fusion Consulting

MUMBAI: Asia Pacific's pay revenues stood at $25 billion in 2004 with heavyweights Japan, India and China accounting for 65 per cent of the total earnings in the region, according to Fusion Consulting estimates.



The pay television subscribers numbered 205 million, 85 per cent of whom came from these three countries. Korea accounts for a further five per cent. "Over 90 per cent of the pay TV subscriber market resides in just four countries - Japan, Korea, China and India. But each of them are at a different stage of development," says Fusion Consulting, Singapore head of the media industry practice Peter Read.



India is the fastest growing and the “most exciting” market in the region, easily outpacing that in China and Japan. Projecting a compound annual growth rate of close to 10 per cent, Fusion Consulting expects India’s pay TV subscriber households to approach 70 million by 2010, up from 50 million at the end of 2004. "The market continues to attract operators, programmers and distributors, despite chaotic infrastructure and confusing regulations," says Read.

Japan has a much higher average revenue per subscriber household, estimated at around $600. The subscriber base stands at almost 20 million. "This is many times more than the average Indian subscriber household, especially given the twin problems of subscriber reporting and revenue collection plaguing the Indian industry," says Read.

China has a huge market of over 100 million subscribers, established by domestic operations. It is growing at a rate of a few percentage points a year, as urban incomes increase. "China is vying with India for the `most exciting title' with India. The real excitement so far, however, for all but a select few international players is very much in the future potential, as most foreign players are currently unable to broadcast their own dedicated channel," says Read.

The market received a temporary jolt with the clamp-down by the Chinese government on foreign companies’ investments in the media business in mid-2005. But there is appetite within China for foreign entrants and there is a "public side" and a "private side" to foreign involvement in the media industry. "Joint ventures continue to flourish, most notably with Shanghai Media Group (SMG), which has teamed up with several foreign programmers over the past several years," Read says.

Content localisation has been the major formula for success. Zee, Sony and Star have also tapped the huge population of expatriate overseas with Hindi, Bengali and Tamil language content. Fusion Consulting estimates this market to be worth about $400 million in advertising and subscription revenues.

China’s Shanghai Media Group intends to follow suit, as over 30 million ethnic Chinese live outside, by creating and broadcasting programmes aimed at overseas Chinese.

The Asia Pacific pay-TV market will continue to develop as more domestic and international opportunities open up for both Western and Asian players, says Read.

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