Rewind 2018: Will the new Trai tariff order shake-up DTH, cable industry?

With the implementation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) new tariff order, the broadcast industry will see a sea change in the way business is conducted. With the choice of channels in the hands of the subscriber, the broadcasters and distributors can no longer push bundles on to the consumers. Thus, if a consumer does not want a channel, they need not have it on their cable/DTH connection. This is expected to lead to some shake-up in the industry. Here is what media experts are saying:

Long-tail or niche channels will face a huge challenge as they can no longer piggyback on the more popular channels. These could include channels in the news, infotainment, travel and lifestyle, English entertainment, and kids’ genre

The independent channels in these genres, or smaller networks, stand to lose more since bigger networks have the option of bundling the channels with popular general entertainment ones

Networks like Star India have included infotainment channels — National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild in the base Hindi and language packs, as has Viacom18 (History TV18 is the infotainment channel in the Hindi pack). 

Discovery Networks may not face a big issue as they have a portfolio of more than 10 channels, and have built a brand for itself 

Among the news channels, those with affiliations to entertainment networks have an edge. For example, the bouquets from Viacom18 have various News18 channels included. Similarly, Zee’s channel packages include news channels from the Zee Media portfolio

Independent news networks with fewer channels in their portfolio like NDTV, TV Today, News X, and even the likes of Republic would face the challenge of sustaining subscriptions and eyeballs in this case. The Times Network may have a slight advantage since it also has English movie and entertainment channels. Most news channels however are priced between Rs 0.5 and Rs 3 on a-la-carte basis

While everyone has opted to take a wait-and-watch approach to how the implementation of the new regime pans out, experts do concede that the broadcast industry may eventually see a culling of channels, as those without demand may be phased out

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