How the digital revolution is leading the path to revival of the television industry
Ravi Adhikari, Promoter/Creative Director, SAB GroupSAB Group
The television industry is in the midst of a digital revolution

How the digital revolution is leading the path to revival of the television industry

The television industry is in the midst of a digital revolution
  • As online video streaming services are spreading like wildfire and becoming an important part of people's lives, the television industry is also witnessing a digital revolution.
  • Although the viewing habits are on the cusp of a change, it will still take some time for the digital revolution to penetrate pan-India.
  • Ravi Adhikari, Promoter/Creative Director, SAB Group writes about how this digital revolution will also help in the revival of the television industry.

Cable television has been entertaining the world for more than half a century now. The TV industry has evolved enormously over the years from the black and white variant to colour, big boxes to flat screen, and numbered TV channels booming into countless channels that we are offered today. The class is more inclined towards digital platforms but TV still enjoys the bigger chunk of the audience which is the mass. The kind of content produced for both the platforms should be differentiated on these dynamics. Although the viewing habits are on the cusp of a change, it will still take some time for the digital revolution to penetrate pan-India.

Nonetheless, the television industry is in the midst of a digital revolution. Online video streaming services have been spreading like wildfire, empowering consumers to watch what they want, when they want, and where they want. The ramifications of this for the TV industry, per se, have been adverse as networks, with their timeless legacy of linear programming (such as airing news, sports and entertainment at pre-set times) are fighting to stay relevant. Cable and satellite companies, too, have seen their traditional bundles come under attack from a range of streaming offerings. Content producers are striving hard to develop hit shows that would help TV networks and digital aggregators differentiate themselves and capitalize on constantly evolving consumer preferences.

Therefore, the TV industry needs evolution rather than revolution to fight the digital boom. The digital industry has seen a growth of 39% over the last few years whereas the TV industry has seen a growth of 10% over the last few years. The growth for the TV industry may not have been as phenomenal as the growth of the digital platforms but the positive side to it is that there is growth nevertheless. And till the time there is growth, there is hope. The first digital revolution occurred in the music industry, that witnessed a transition from radio and physical music ownership like cassettes, CDs and music download websites to music streaming digital platforms. A similar shift is happening in the TV viewing habits.

Despite the consumption of video on digital platforms being on the rise in the country, the good old television continues to have an edge in terms of penetration and has large headroom left to fill. In 2019, it was the cable TV that led the market followed by satellite and terrestrial television. Indian broadcasting and the cable TV market is anticipated to go through a robust rate of growth in the near future.

The major factors contributing to the rise of the market in India are favourable rules and regulations, technological advancements and ever-growing investment opportunities in the broadcasting and cable TV market. The increasing demand for TV sets, especially in the rural areas, is also one of the key factors supporting the rise of this segment. Further, the emerging entertainment industry with an increasing demand for international TV channels and shows are expected to further propel the growth of the TV market through 2025. With the entry of various Multi System operators (MSOs) in recent times, India has witnessed a surge in the active subscriber base. The digitization of cable TV in India is at an advanced stage with the market being driven by content innovation and variety in the product offerings.

TV industry should play on its strengths which is the enormous reach that it enjoys as compared to the digital platform. For brands, TV is an easier and more straightforward way of communicating with and reaching their consumers through advertising. However, for TV to evolve digitally, it is needed that the players in the industry come up with ways to provide real-time data for advertisers, which is otherwise being made possible by the digital platforms.
Also, the TV industry needs to devise a way to bring down the inventory wastage by designing campaignsthat are more targeted towardsthe relevant audience, as is already being done by the digital advertisers.Soon, the TV industry will witness the rise of more event-based programming such as screening of live sports and events (award shows, news, concerts, etc.). Similar to the shift in the TV industry scenario, in the coming times, there will be another revolution in the digital space with the emergence of gaming and interactive shows.
Summing it up
Television is and will continue to be the biggest medium for the foreseeable future in India. For the next 10 years at least TV and appointment viewing will continue in the country. And the reason behind this is that TV is extremely affordable. The numbers definitely showcase a strong growth in the TV universe. Even for brands looking to advertise, TV shall remain the preferred medium of choice and this behaviour will not change so suddenly.