Doordarshan mulls reach extension in south & east markets with new regional offerings

MUMBAI: India’s public broadcaster Doordarshan is all set to expand its viewership in non-Hindi speaking markets having drawn up plans to increase presence in the southern and eastern parts of the country by launching new TV channels.

Quoting BARC data (and other industry figures) that DD’s satellite-based FTA service FreeDish reaches 22 million homes, Doordarshan DG Supriya Sahu told, “We are working on a plan to expand our bouquet of channels for the southern and eastern markets by increasing the number of regional channels.”

According to Sahu, compared to private broadcasters’ regional channels, pubcaster’s language channels like DD Punjabi, DD Sahyadri and DD Podhigai (Tamil) were “working great” and, hence, the next natural move was to “strengthen” the network by “moving deeper into rural areas”.

Sahu, however, did not clarify or shed more light on the nature and programming of the proposed regional language channels and whether they would be totally funded by taxpayers’ money or marketing initiatives simultaneously will be undertaken to try making the new channels financially viable.

India’s national radio and TV services, All India Radio and Doordarshan, are funded by taxpayers’ money with the federal government extending annual financial aids to bridge the gap between revenue and expenditure.

Doordarshan is also working on a whole range of other issue, which include improving content and better cross-channel promotion and marketing of all the channels in its 30-channel+ bouquet. Sahu added that such promotions will be “high” on social media as also traditional platforms.

However, Indian TV industry observers are of the opinion that the pubcaster should do additional due diligence of viewership trends before formally launching more Indian language channels as DD’s bouquet already consists of fairly large number of regional offerings and in most such markets DD channels are amongst the top five, but not in pole position.   

For example, if BARC India data for Week 25 for Punjabi language channels are examined, DD Punjabi was at No. 4 having garnered 25,022 (‘000) weekly Impressions in the markets (urban+rural) of  Punjab/Haryana / Chandigarh /Himachal/ J&K (NCCS All: 2+ individuals). Private sector TV channels like PTC Punjabi, MH1 Music and Chardikala Time TV occupied the top three slots, respectively, in terms of viewership.

Non-cricket Sports League In The Offing

Meanwhile, Sahu also told that Doordarshan is working on a blueprint to enter sports business with three different sports leagues -- basketball, tackle football (a modified form of American football) and the indigenous kabaddi.

“We are in the final stage of finalising various logistical aspects (of such sports leagues), including the bouquet of games, partnerships, production values and marketing initiatives for the leagues,” Sahu said, adding that help of an American company with expertise in conducting university sports could be taken.

Though the game of kabaddi, men and women, has already been turned into a league and is promoted heavily by Star Sports, which, according to the private broadcaster, has given it good dividends in terms of revenue and viewership.

“We are not restricted to three games (for the league model),” the DD DG said, explaining more games could be taken up as the pubcaster is working on various models to bring down the costs of holding such leagues. “The sports league is not a one-time affair and is a long-term strategy spread over four to five years that will give good returns,” she added.

A recent report by GroupM ESP and sports business media outlet SportzPower states that sports sponsorship in India grew 19.33 per cent in 2016 touching Rs 64,000 million.


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