Despite viewership growth, DD needs to overcome content, advertising challenges

DD India contributes to 22 per cent of the entire genre viewership

MUMBAI: India’s public broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, is one of the largest public broadcasters in the world. It got a big boost with DD Free Dish that enabled it to reach into the interior parts of the country where pay channels didn’t have much headway. In 2019, Prasar Bharati added 11 regional channels on DD Free Dish to expand its reach, gaining 16 per cent more viewership over the previous year (2018). Half of its viewership comes from Hindi channels and the other half from regional language channels.

Among the 24 DD channels measured by BARC India, the viewership of its English news channel DD India grew 63 per cent over the previous year, while that of DD Kisan gained 48 per cent. Notably, in the English news space, DD India contributes to 22 per cent of the entire genre viewership.

Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi S Vempati says, “Doordarshan is not just a broadcaster; it is an institution that has helped germinate, build and popularise television in India. In the dynamic broadcast sector, Doordarshan, too, is transforming itself to keep in sync with its core mandate of public service broadcasting as well as meet audience expectations.”

He further says, “Towards this, we rely on data and insights from BARC India to help target and deliver our content in a more effective manner. BARC India has done a great job in building the world’s largest TV viewership measurement system. As a key stakeholder of BARC India, we continue to engage and collaborate with the industry body as it consolidates and expands its services further.”

Recently, the pubcaster revived two of its shows Ramayan and Mahabharat during the covid-19 crisis. Although it no longer enjoys a monopoly position, Doordarshan continues to have its dedicated audience and exercises its specific responsibility of public service and socially-relevant broadcasting.

Joel Multimedia founder & CEO Varghese Thomas says, “India's public broadcaster was the one and only destination for television advertisers three decades ago. DD National, DD Metro and about 15 regional channels used to feature in all TV plans until the late 1990s. The public broadcaster has gifted a lot of good shows to the Indian television Industry such as Mahabharat, Ramayan, Surbhi, Rangoli, Chitrahaar, Superhit Muqabla, Shanti, Swabhiman etc. (Some of them were privately produced). The Friday and Saturday Hindi feature films were bumper hits among advertisers. Has anyone thought of creating a fantastic show out of a morning time band at 7 am on Sundays with a show like Rangoli? That was the power of Doordarshan during those days.”

Thomas believes that after the entrance of satellite TV channels, pubcasters could not withstand the fast-changing trends and lost audience to private channels. He says, “Today, the HSM market has 57 per cent penetration of TV in the urban+rural markets. The proliferation of satellite channels with deep pockets and focus on innovative content has changed the way TV is consumed in India.  From fiction to sitcoms to reality shows, satellite channels have all that to entertain the ever-hungry TV audience. As the audience moved, advertisers have also moved to satellite channels as it was offering multi-dimensional opportunities for the brand rather than just buying a TV spot of 30 seconds.”

Thomas, however, believes that though people in metros prefer satellite channels over public broadcasters only due to the programming, it would be a good idea to consider the public broadcaster for smaller towns and villages. “The terrestrial reach of the broadcaster is exclusive and no other broadcaster caters to that space which is very important. DD Free Dish is another superhit with 35 million connections and it's a great platform for even FTA satellite channels for distribution. Last year, the public broadcaster has generated revenue of Rs 500+ crore only by striking distribution deals with private channels.”

According to the 2nd edition of BARC India- What India Watched 2019, the total viewership on DD grew to 573 billion viewing minutes in 2019 from 492 billion viewing minutes in 2018. The viewing minutes on DD's GEC channels grew by 19 per cent from 355 billion viewing minutes in 2018 to 424 billion viewing minutes in 2019.

News genre witnessed five per cent growth in 2019 at 25 billion viewing minutes from 24 billion viewing minutes in 2018. Sports grew by four per cent at 101 billion viewing minutes in 2019 from 98 billion viewing minutes in 2018 and niche/others genre grew by 48 per cent at 23 billion viewing minutes in 2019 from 16 billion viewing minutes in 2018.

“In spite of an increase in viewership, the number of advertisers in 2019 reduced by eight to10 per cent. In terms of spends there was growth in 2018 but in 2019 overall spends across DD network dropped by 30-35 per cent. Large CPG brands have also reduced spends on the DD channels in 2019,” informs Carat India executive VP Mayank Bhatnagar.

He, too, agrees that the network has a vast untapped potential in the rural belt of the country. “The government has taken several steps to improve the quality of content and added new content to attract viewers. The viewership growth is exceptional, driven by the quality of the content and audience connect via increased presence on social media platforms. However, currently facing immense pressure from other FTA channels, DD needs to invest in the right content which is relatable and relevant to audiences,” he opines.

Havas Media Group CEO India and South East Asia Anita Nayyar believe that if the public broadcaster is able to help advertisers with an attractive number of eyeballs and quality reach through innovative programming, it can get more investments.

Nayyar says, “Depending upon the kind of audience and the markets it caters to and reaches, the investments follow. Advertisers are interested in reach and that too quality reach. With reach, the focus should be on quality of programming and that will get quality advertisers. As long as the same is delivered it should automatically attract advertisers and investments.”

She further opines, “Unfortunately, the perception of public broadcasters in spite of the reach is not up to the mark and perceived to be low quality on both the audience and content fronts. With so many options available to view and great quality content available all across they have tough competition and will need to rise to the occasion.”

There was some negative growth as well in some of the languages like Gujarati and Punjabi. Gujarati witnessed a fall of 5 per cent, the viewing minutes decreased to 9 billion in 2019 from 9.3 billion in 2018. Punjabi witnessed a 13 per cent fall in viewing minutes from 49 billion viewing minutes from 43 billion viewing minutes in 2018. 

Latest Reads
&TV set to bring new show 'Mauka-E-Vardaat: Operation Vijay'

Mumbai: &TV is set to bring a new crime show titled "Mauka-E-Vardaat: Operation Vijay" on Monday at 7 p.m.  The show is the new edition of its popular series "Mauka-E-Vardaat" featuring stories of fantasy supervillains and how 'Operation Vijay' - a special task force comprising the sharpest and...

Television TV Channels Movie Channels
Mirchi launches new show 'Sunday Suspense Hindi'

Mumbai: Music and entertainment company Mirchi has launched its new show "Mirchi Sunday Suspense Hindi." The radio show presents dramatic readings from Indian literature across suspense, crime, horror genres and it airs every Sunday between 3 p.m and 4 p.m on Radio Mirchi.

Television TV Channels Music and Youth
Rajat Sharma elected as president of NBDA

Mumbai: The News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) has elected Rajat Sharma as president at a meeting held on Monday. The board also elected ABP Network chief executive officer Avinash Pandey as vice president and Times Network managing director and chief executive officer MK Anand as...

Television TV Channels People
Rahul Gangwani named editor-in-chief of Lifestyle Asia India

Mumbai: International media company Burda Media on Monday named Rahul Gangwani as editor-in-chief for Lifestyle Asia India. In this role, Gangwani will oversee the Lifestyle Asia’s editorial team, developing the brand’s editorial strategy and spearheading the rollout of new brand campaigns and...

Television TV Channels People
News18 Lokmat impact on the roads of Maharashtra

Mumbai: News18 Network has always been at forefront of highlighting key issues that echo the voice of the common man and engage all the necessary stakeholders to encourage development and progress. Continuing this commitment to spearheading issues of the common man and bringing it to the notice of...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Sandeep Dahiya moves on from Times Group

Mumbai: Times Lifestyle Enterprise CEO and Bennett Coleman and Co Ltd (Times Group) director of brand extension Sandeep Dahiya has decided to move on from the organisation. According to a statement, he will continue to be with the group till mid-November, for a smooth transition. Dahiya spent eight...

Television TV Channels People
Sun TV regains top spot in week 37: Barc

Mumbai: Sun TV has regained the top position in week 37 replacing Star Maa which was the most viewed channel last week, according to Barc data. The Tamil GEC clocked 2722.56 weekly AMAs in week 37 (11 September to 17 September). The figure for week 36 when it was at the third position stood at 2789...

Television TV Channels Viewership
Disney Kids Network bags 12 awards at Promax India 21

Mumbai: The Disney Kids Network in India won 12 awards at the recently concluded Promax 21 held on 24 September.  The media network secured eight gold and four silver across various categories including for the interactive DIY show, "Disney Imagine That."

Television TV Channels Kids
Discovery India launches travelogue promoting Uttar Pradesh

Mumbai: Discovery Communications India, in association with the Uttar Pradesh government, is all set to launch an exclusive travelogue "Heritage Trails, One District, One Product."  Releasing on Discovery channel and discovery+ on 25 September, the documentary highlights the states’ rich culture,...

Television TV Channels Factual

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories

* indicates required