July 2019


TRAI's New Tariff Order (NTO) implemented in March 2019 has radically changed not only viewership of several TV channels, even the consumption of TV channels has fallen due to the significantly higher monthly bills after the NTO.


Consumers have vehemently complained that the NTO has increased their monthly cost of watch TV.

Rather than pay more, consumers have drastically cut down the number of channels subscribed to.

As a result, 'channel surfing' has fallen drastically. With fewer TV channels available to switch to, consumers switch off their TV sets when they lose interest in the content on their subscribed channels.

TRAI Implemented The NTO After Removing The A-La-Carte To Bouquet Price Cap


For weeks after its implementation, TRAI refused to accept that TV viewing bills had risen, mainly because the NTO was implemented without the original key clause that restricted inflating the costs of a-lacarte channels.


Now, the TRAI has agreed that Cable TV & DTH Subscription prices have zoomed and met resistance from consumers.

Unconfirmed reports are that TRAI may float a fresh consultation on how to lower the consumers' monthly bill.

TRAI May Float A New Consultation To Reduce Consumers' Bills


Without the TRAI's bouquet price cap, the big players have ensured that even their laggard channels are forced on consumers.

A report by CLSA states that Star India remains the No.1 pay channel broadcaster. Zee, Sony & Network18 have maintained their rankings, if not viewership.

Prior to the NTO, the large broadcasters together had a share of 91-92%. This dipped sharply to 78% immediately after the NTO. That has now recovered to 83% and continues to rise. Viewers that they have lost have moved to FTA channels.


Regional pay channels have taken a beating. Even Sun Network has been adversely affected.


Doordarshan's FTA DTH platform FreeDish has huge rural viewership. Star, Sony & Zee earlier offered some of their Pay channels, FTA on FreeDish. These attracted huge viewership.

With this practice stopped, all pay channels have been removed from FreeDish.

According to an Edelweiss report, Zee Anmol, Sony Pal, Star Utsav and Star Bharat, have lost massive viewership after being exited from FreeDish. Most of these have had a 25% drop in their ratings.

Star Bharat's viewership share has dropped to 6% while Sony Pal's to 2.5% after the NTO. Zee Anmol and Colors Rishtey no longer featured among the top 10 channels in weeks 14-17.

Impressions are down by about 17% (aggregate); by 12% in urban and 26% in rural markets. And this has benefitted other FTA channels on FreeDish.

FTA Channel Dangal TV Is Now India's Most Watched Hindi GEC Channel


Surprising all, Dangal TV and Big Magic, both on FreeDish doubled and tripled their average viewerships respectively, in the Hindi GEC rural segment.

Hindi GEC FTA channel Dangal TV has now become the most watched Hindi GEC channel.

Dangal TV, owned by Enterr10, now commands a viewership share of 21% (which was 8% before the tariff order), and ZEEL's Big Magic around 15% in the Hindi GEC segment.

Dangal TV, the biggest gainer, was originally a Bhojpuri channel. It turned into a Hindi GEC and started airing old shows.

Big Magic, which was acquired by ZEEL in 2016, airs original content.

Dangal TV and Big Magic have continued to maintain their leadership positions for 10 weeks now.


According to media experts, there has been a tenfold increase in the ad rate for a 10-second spot on Dangal TV, to ₹ 10,000-12,000. Similarly, Big Magic now charges ₹ 8,000 to ₹ 10,000 for a 10-second spot.

Previously, FMCG advertisers met their reach requirements with the FTA & Pay channels offered by major Pay TV broadcasters.

Vineet Sodhani, CEO, Spatial Access, says these are no longer performing as well as before the NTO. "Advertisers' GRP requirements are not being met, and channels like Dangal TV are being added to their media mix."

K Srinivas Rao, national director - buying, Mediacom reflects the same. "Advertisers who carry out limited period campaigns are shifting plans from previously top-rated channels to the new leaders." n