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TRAI tariff order impacted uptake of niche channels: KPMG

It also added that English channels are also likely to encounter challenges

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MUMBAI: Even as TRAI is mulling over changes to its existing tariff order, a report by KPMG, India’s Digital Future, highlighted that niche channels were affected especially due to lesser focus on such channels in broadcaster packs.

“The uptake of niche channels has suffered in the new regulatory environment as broadcasters focused on creating packs that ensured pick-up of their GEC and movie channels with DPOs building on top of them with FTAs at their disposal. While niche channels belonging to larger broadcasters are likely to do better than others in the long run owing to the network effects enjoyed by their parent company, they will still need to be innovative in order to survive and remain relevant in the long run,” the report read.

According to the report, niche genres on TV in this new era are expected to be under pressure from rival offerings on digital platforms. It also added the English channels are also likely to encounter challenges in terms of viewership and subscription in the new regime. But the uptake of pay regional channels, especially top GECs and movie channels, has remained firm in the regional markets in the new regime, particularly in the Southern markets.

Despite the tariff order giving consumers options to choose channels, the report noted that initial trends indicate that the monthly bills of viewers wishing to watch the same number of channels as earlier has gone up significantly. However, the ARPUs have increased across all the markets with phase III and phase IV markets witnessing massive growth of 30-35 per cent in average realisations.

“This choice of channels has come at a dearer price for individuals at the lower end of the ARPUs who are either paying more for watching the same number of channels or are content with lesser number of channels at their disposal. As per industry discussions, some choice is taking place at the higher end of the subscription pyramid, leading to lower TV bills, however, the same is definitely accompanied by a lower number of viewable channels at the disposal of the consumers,” the report added.

It went on to say that viewership and reach for the TV universe is likely to change as the effects of NTO start to play out. But it also added that the broadcasters will need to renew focus on content quality to ensure survival and pick-up of their channels.

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