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What Netflix? Indians are still glued to the idiot box

AP Photo/Channi Anand
Not without my TV.
By Suneera Tandon
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Indians still love watching television.

Since 2016, TV viewership in India has shot up by 12%, according to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC)’s Broadcast India survey. This indicates that despite the proliferation of smartphones and cheap data, which have fuelled the rise of on-demand entertainment networks like Hotstar and Netflix, Indians remain invested in television sets.

BARC, which monitors TV ownership and viewership habits in India, studied 300,000 households for the survey, the findings of which were released on July 26.

The survey report indicates a 7.5% increase in the number of TV-owning households across India to 197 million in 2018. The number of viewers also rose by 7.2% to 836 million. In comparison, Hotstar, the leading over the top video streaming platform in India, has just a little over 60 million users.

“India is a country driven by family viewing and this shows in the increase in the number of TV households,” Partho Dasgupta, CEO of BARC India, said in a statement. 

Some 66% of the 300 million-odd Indian households own TV sets. More money in the hands of rural consumers—i.e., 65% of the country’s population—has led to a 10% growth in TV ownership in 2018. In urban India, it was up by 4%, BARC’s report said.

Across households, the average time spent by individuals on watching TV rose 3% in 2018. On average, Indians spent 3 hours 44 minutes on the medium daily in 2018—4 hours and 6 minutes in urban India and 3 hours, 27 minutes in rural India.

These numbers mean that television still accounts for the largest share (45%) of annual advertising revenue even, though the medium hasn’t grown much in the last two years, according to 2017 estimates by GroupM.

“…what hasn’t changed is the fact that TV remains the most effective platform for both content creators and advertisers to reach their audiences,” Dasgupta added.

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