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Digitisation leading to higher HD adoption in India

Sports, GEC and movies contribute most to increased HD viewership.

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MUMBAI: High definition (HD) TV channels started launching in India years ago but it was only when digitisation happened on a large scale that the adoption of channels grew.

According to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), the total HD count in India has increased to 83 channels currently from 59 channels in 2016, witnessing a growth of 41 per cent since 2016. The first HD channel was National Geographic HD in 2010.

Of the 83 HD channels, 34 are English, 13 channels are Hindi and 10 of them have multiple languages feed. On the other hand, 50 channels out of 83 have both SD and HD feed.

While the number of channels has gone up by 41 per cent, the viewership share has grown by more than 160 per cent. The reason behind this viewership growth is most likely technology and distribution. There were 10-12 million subscribers availing HD services at the end of FY18, according to FICCI KPMG’s Media & Entertainment report 2018.

The DTH players have been the front-runners in up-selling HD services to their customers, whereas MSOs only managed to garner about 1-1.5 million HD subscribers.

KPMG partner and head – media and entertainment Girish Menon said, “The new television sets coming in the market are all HD-ready in some form or the other. Even the set top boxes which are coming out, sold by the DTH and cable operators, are all HD boxes. In that sense, from a hardware perspective, the market is steadily moving towards HD. The second trend which is happening from the content perspective is that all the television channels are now essentially converting and up-scaling their feed into HD. The content available in HD is also increasing. You will see more HD conversions happening, SD subscribers shifting to HD and a greater proportion of HD subscribers that are going to come in.”

If we look at the market contributing to HD viewership this year, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have the highest share of the pie with 18 per cent. Maharashtra and Goa contribute 16 per cent to the overall market.

“Maximum consumption in viewership is contributed by sports and GEC followed by movies. We will see more HD regional channels which will lead to growth of regional viewership. On the regional side, Tamil and Telugu markets will drive the HD growth,” he added.

GEC, movies and sports genre contributed 94 per cent to HD viewership this year with 59 per, 25 per cent and 10 per cent for each genre respectively.

The sports genre includes 12 HD channels in India across various broadcasters. As other sporting events apart from cricket are also gaining popularity among the youth, the consumption in HD is also increasing. The viewership share of sports genre is 10 per cent compared to 3 per cent share on SD channels.

The recently concluded FIFA WC 2018 led to a viewership growth of 1.5x on HD channels, compared to pre-FIFA weeks. IPL 2018 which took place earlier this year was telecast on more number of HD channels on Star India’s sports network and saw a 40x growth in HD Impressions over IPL 2017, according to BARC data.

As far as 4K technology is concerned, we are a long way off. “We are still seeing HD penetration growing. For 4K you need enough hardware and 4K TV, which at the moment are not there. Secondly, we don’t have 4K content directly available in India. We are three years away before we start seeing any traction in 4K technology,” he concluded.

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