So, it has turned out that our humble idiot box is not as dumb as thought. It has kept pace with the changing times. It is bigger, leaner and equipped with advanced technology now — offering great visual experience.
But the challenge is always there. Online audiences have grown faster than any other medium including television in the last three years, raising questions about the future of TV.
However, such arguments can be put to rest as people remain committed to TV. It remains by far the largest video medium in India with 878 million viewers. That is nearly twice the number watching online videos.
With Rs 72,000 crore a year in advertising and pay revenues, television towers over every other outlet, cornering 45% of all media revenues.
Even as television languishes on older distribution formats such as cable and DTH, it is having a concurrent resurrection online, providing half of all videos consumed.
Disney+Hotstar and SonyLIV, both owned by television companies, are among the top 10 video apps in India.
While linear television audiences declined marginally last year, it still fuels the growth of online videos in India, on YouTube, short video apps and all other distribution formats.
The rise of the internet as the latest distribution technology for content is also shaping the future of TV.
According to Vanita Kohli-Khandekar of Business Standard, TV by itself remains robust and strong. The future of TV is about the decline of traditional distribution formats, she says. Competitors for TV players have changed now.
More than half of what India watches continues to be on General Entertainment Channels, with five non-Hindi channels in the top 10.
Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada remain the blockbuster languages of television, showing year-on-year growth.
The simplicity of its model keeps television going as choices across the video spectrum multiply from 10-second videos to 10 hours of bingeing.
But the single-biggest trend right now is the migration of viewers at the top end to ‘pay OTT’, and at the bottom end to free-to-air television and ‘free OTT’. It means the decline of television on older distribution formats, such as cable and DTH, and its concurrent resurrection online.
Speaking to Business Standard, Karan Taurani, Senior Vice-President, Elara Capital says, broadcaster-backed OTTs get 70% of viewing from catch-up TV content. This share will keep going down as OTTs expand web series movie library. TV and digital will co-exist but digital ad share will cross TV’s. OTT ARPUs are still low, India is a TV payment-friendly country
The OTT market in India is still nascent. As streaming companies add more originals to their library, the viewing share of TV content will come down. But the growth of TV depends on its ability to migrate its audiences and business online, regardless of the technology that transmits the content. The future hinges on the internet. And television seems to be riding that, for now.